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The Five-Foot Shelf of Books 


The Apology, Phaedo and 
Crito of Plato 


The Golden Sayings 
of Epictetus 


The Meditations of 
Marcus Aurelius 


W/M Introductions and Notes 
Wo/ume 2 

P. F. Collier & Son Corooration 


Copyright, 1009 
By p. F. Collier & Son 




The Apology of Socrates 5 

Crito 31 

PhjEdo 45 


The Golden Sayings OF Epictetus 115 

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 191 

M. Aurelius Antoninus 302 

The Philosophy of Antoninus 320 

George Long, MA. 


Socrates, the son of an Athenian sculptor, was born in 469 B.C. He 
was trained in his father's art, but gave it up early to devote his time 
to the search for truth and virtue. He took his part as a citizen both in 
war and in peace, and bore the hardships of pwverty and a shrewish wife 
with calm indifference. He did not give formal instruction after the 
fashion of other philosophers of his time, but went about engaging people 
in conversation, seeking, chiefly by questions, to induce his contempo- 
raries, and esjjecially the young men, to think clearly and to act reason- 
ably. He made profession of no knowledge except of his own ignorance, 
and the famous "Socratic irony" was shown in his attitude of apparent 
willingness to learn from anyone who professed to know. The inevitable 
result of such conversations, however, was the reduction of the would-be 
instructor to a state either of irritation at the unmasking of his pre- 
tensions, or of humility and eagerness to be instructed by his questioner. 
It was natural that such a habit should create enemies, and Socrates was 
finally accused of introducing new gods and of corrupting the youth. 
His defense, as will be seen from the "Apology," was conducted with his 
customary firm adherence to his convictions, and with entire fearlessness 
of consequences. He could, in all probability, have easily escaped the 
death sentence had he been willing to take a conciliatory tone, but he 
died (B.C. 399) a martyr to his unswerving devotion to truth. Socrates 
wrote nothing, and we learn what we know of his teachings chiefly from 
his disciples, Xenophon and Plato. 

Plato was also an Athenian, born in 428 B.C. of a distinguished family. 
He became a disciple of Socrates at the age of twenty, and after the death 
of his master he traveled in Egypt, Sicily, and elsewhere, returning to 
Athens about 388. Here he established his school of philosophy in a 
gaiden near a gymnasium, called the Academy, and here he spent the 
last forty years of his life, numbering among his pupils his great rival in 
philosophical renown, Aristode. Unlike Socrates, Plato took no part in 
the civic life of Athens, but he was much interested in political phi- 
losophy, and is said to have been consulted by statesmen both at home 
and abroad. 

All the works of Plato have been preserved, and they include, besides 
those here printed, the "Republic," "Symposium," "Phacdrus," "Pro- 
tagoras," "Thextctus," "Gorgias," and many others. They take the form 
of dialogues, in which Plato himself appears, if at all, only as a listener, 


and in which the chief speaker is Socrates. As Plato developed the 
philosophy of Socrates, especially on speculative lines, far beyond the 
point reached by Socrates himself, it is itn[x>ssible to judge with any 
exactness precisely how much of the teaching is the master's, how much 
the pupil's. 

The philosophy of these dialogues has remained for over two thousand 
years one of the great intellectual influences of the civilized world; and 
they are as admirable from the |x>int of view of literature as of philos- 
ophy. The style is not only beautiful in itself, but is adapted with great 
dramatic skill to the large variety of speakers; and the suggestion of 
situation and the drawing of character are the work of a great artist. 
The three dialogues here given are at once favorable examples of the 
literary skill of Plato and intimate pictures of the personality of his 


How you have felt, O men of Athens, at hearing the speeches 
of my accusers, I cannot tell; but I know that their per- 
suasive words almost made me forget who I was, such was 
the effect of them; and yet they have hardly spoken a word of 
truth. But many as their falsehoods were, there was one of them 
which quite amazed me: I mean when they told you to be upon 
your guard, and not to let yourself be deceived by the force of my 
eloquence. They ought to have been ashamed of saying this, because 
they were sure to be detected as soon as 1 opened my lips and dis- 
played my deficiency; they certainly did appear to be most shame- 
less in saying this, unless by the force of eloquence they mean the 
force of truth : for then I do indeed admit that I am eloquent. But 
in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have 
hardly uttered a word, or not more than a word, of truth; but you 
shall hear from me the whole truth: not, however, delivered after 
their manner, in a set oration duly ornamented with words and 
phrases. No, indeed! but I shall use the words and arguments which 
occur to me at the moment; for I am certain that this is right, and 
that at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, O 
men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator: let no one ex- 
pect this of me. And I must beg of you to grant me one favor, which 
is this — if you hear me using the same words in my defence which 
I have been in the habit of using, and which most of you may have 
heard in the agora, and at the tables of the money<hangers, or 
anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised at this, and not 
to interrupt me. For I am more than seventy years of age, and this 
is the first time that I have ever appeared in a court of law, and I 
am quite a stranger to the ways of the place; and therefore I would 
have you regard me as if I were really a stranger, whom you would 
excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his 
country: that I think is not an unfair request. Never mind the man- 



ner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the justice of 
my cause, and give heed to that: let the judge decide justly and the 
speaker speak truly. 

And first, I have to reply to the older charges and to my first 
accusers, and then I will go to the later ones. For I have had many 
accusers, who accused me of old, and their false charges have con- 
tinued during many years; and I am more afraid of them than of 
Anytus and his associates, who are dangerous, too, in their own way. 
But far more dangerous are these, who began when you were 
children, and took possession of your minds with their falsehoods, 
telling of one Socrates, a wise man, who sp)eculated about the heaven 
above, and searched into the earth beneath, and made the worse ap- 
pear the better cause. These are the accusers whom I dread; for 
they are the circulators of this rumor, and their hearers are too apt 
to fancy that speculators of this sort do not believe in the gods. And 
they are many, and their charges against me are of ancient date, 
and they made them in days when you were impressible — in child- 
hood, or perhaps in youth — and the cause when heard went by de- 
fault, for there was none to answer. And, hardest of all, their names 
I do not know and cannot tell; unless in the chance of a comic poet. 
But the main body of these slanderers who from envy and mahce 
have wrought upon you — and there are some of them who are con- 
vinced themselves, and impart their convictions to others — all these, 
I say, are most difficult to deal with; for I cannot have them up here, 
and examine them, and therefore I must simply fight with shadows 
in my own defence, and examine when there is no one who answers. 
I will ask you then to assume with me, as I was saying, that my 
opponents are of two kinds — one recent, the other ancient; and I 
hof)e that you will see the propriety of my answering the latter first, 
for these accusations you heard long before the others, and much 

Well, then, I will make my defence, and I will endeavor in the 
short time which is allowed to do away with this evil opinion of me 
which you have held for such a long time; and I hope I may suc- 
ceed, if this be well for you and me, and that my words may find 
favor with you. But I know that to accomplish this is not easy — I 


quite see the nature of the task. Let the event be as Gcxl wills: in 
obedience to the law I make my defence. 

I will begin at the beginning, and ask what the accusation is 
which has given rise to this slander of me, and which has encouraged 
Meletus to proceed against me. What do the slanderers say? They 
shall be my prosecutors, and I will sum up their words in an affi- 
davit: "Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches 
into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse 
appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to 
others." That is the nature of the accusation, and that is what you 
have seen yourselves in the comedy of Aristophanes; who has in- 
troduced a man whom he calls Socrates, going about and saying that 
he can walk in the air, and talking a deal of nonsense concerning 
matters of which I do not pretend to know either much or little — not 
that I mean to say anything disparaging of anyone who is a student 
of natural philosophy. I should be very sorry if Meletus could lay 
that to my charge. But the simple truth is, O Athenians, that I have 
nothing to do with these studies. Very many of those here present 
are witnesses to the truth of this, and to them I appeal. Speak then, 
you who have heard me, and tell your neighbors whether any of you 
have ever known me hold forth in few words or in many upon mat- 
ters of this sort. . . . You hear their answer. And from what they 
say of this you will be able to judge of the truth of the rest. 

As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, 
and take money; that is no more true than the other. Although, if 
a man is able to teach, I honor him for being paid. There is Gorgias 
of Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go 
the round of the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to 
leave their own citizens, by whom they might be taught for nothing, 
and come to them, whom they not only pay, but are thankful if 
they may be allowed to pay them. There is actually a Parian philoso- 
pher residing in Athens, of whom I have heard; and I came to hear 
of him in this way: I met a man who has spent a world of money 
on the Sophists, Callias the son of Hipponicus and knowing that 
he had sons, I asked him: "Callias," I said, "if your two sons were 
foals or calves, there would be no difficulty in finding someone to 


put over them; we should hire a trainer of horses or a farmer prob- 
ably who would improve and perfect them in their own proper 
virtue and excellence; but as they are human beings, whom are you 
thinking of placing over them? Is there anyone who understands 
human and poHtical virtue? You must have thought about this 
as you have sons; is there anyone?" "There is," he said. "Who is 
he?" said I, "and of what country? and what does he charge?" 
"Evenus the Parian," he replied; "he is the man, and his charge 
is five minx." Happy is Evenus, I said to myself, if he really has this 
wisdom, and teaches at such a modest charge. Had I the same, I 
should have been very proud and conceited; but the truth is that I 
have no knowledge of the kind, O Athenians. 

I dare say that someone will ask the question, "Why is this, 
Socrates, and what is the origin of these accusations of you: for there 
must have been something strange which you have been doing? 
All this great fame and talk about you would never have arisen if 
you had been like other men : tell us, then, why this is, as we should 
be sorry to judge hastily of you." Now I regard this as a fair chal- 
lenge, and I will endeavor to explain to you the origin of this name 
of "wise," and of this evil fame. Please to attend then. And although 
some of you may think I am joking, I declare that I will tell you 
the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come 
of a certain sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me what kind 
of wisdom, I reply, such wisdom as is attainable by man, for to that 
extent I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons 
of whom I was speaking have a superhuman wisdom, which I may 
fail to describe, because I have it not myself; and he who says that 
I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character. And here, 
O men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I 
seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I will speak 
is not mine. I will refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit, 
and will tell you about my wisdom — whether I have any, and of 
what sort — and that witness shall be the god of Delphi. You must 
have known Chxrephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also 
a friend of yours, for he shared in the exile of the people, and re- 
turned with you. Well, Chxrephon, as you know, was very impet- 
uous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the 


oracle to tell him whether — as I was saying, I must beg you not to 
interrupt — he asked the oracle to tell him whether there was anyone 
wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered that there 
was no man wiser. Ch^erephon is dead himself, but his brother, who 
is in court, will confirm the truth of this story. 

Why do I mention this? Because I am going to explain to you 
why I have such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said 
to myself, What can the god mean? and what is the interpretation 
of this riddle? for I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. 
What can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men ? And 
yet he is a god and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. 
After a long consideration, I at last thought of a method of trying 
the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than 
myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. 
I should say to him, "Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you 
said that I was the wisest." Accordingly I went to one who had the 
reputation of wisdom, and observed to him — his name I need not 
mention; he was a jxilitician whom I selected for examination — 
and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I 
could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was 
thought wise by many, and wiser still by himself; and I went and 
tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not 
really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his en- 
mity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I 
left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do 
not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and 
good, I am better off than he is — for he knows nothing, and thinks 
that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter 
particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then 
I went to another, who had still higher philosophical pretensions, 
and my conclusion was exactly the same. I made another enemy of 
him, and of many others besides him. 

After this I went to one man after another, being not unconscious 
of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: 
but necessity was laid upon me — the word of God, I thought, ought 
to be considered first. And I said to myself. Go I must to all who 
appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I 


swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear! — for I must tell you 
the truth — the result of my mission was just this: I found that the 
men most in repute were all but the most foolish; and that some 
inferior men were really wiser and better. I will tell you the tale 
of my wanderings and of the "Herculean" labors, as I may call 
them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutable. 
When I left the politicians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, 
and all sorts. And there, I said to myself, you will be detected; now 
you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accord- 
ingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own 
writings, and asked what was the meaning of them — thinking that 
they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost 
ashamed to speak of this, but still I must say that there is hardly 
a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry 
than they did themselves. That showed me in an instant that not by 
wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; 
they are like diviners or soothsayers who also say many fine things, 
but do not understand the meaning of them. And the poets ap- 
peared to me to be much in the same case; and I further observed 
that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to 
be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. 
So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to them for the 
same reason that I was superior to the poUticians. 

At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew 
nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many 
fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many 
things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser 
than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the 
same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they 
thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this de- 
fect in them overshadowed their wisdom — therefore I asked my- 
self on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, 
neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in 
both; and I made answer to myself and the oracle that I was better 
off as I was. 

This investigation has led to my having many enemies of the 
worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to 


many calumnies, and I am called wise, for my hearers always 
imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in 
others: but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; 
and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is Httle 
or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name 
as an illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wisest, who, like 
Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing. And so 
I go my way, obedient to the god, and make inquisition into the 
wisdom of anyone, whether citizen or stranger, who appears to be 
wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show 
him that he is not wise; and this occupation quite absorbs me, and 
I have no time to give either to any public matter of interest or to 
any concern of my own, but I am in utter poverty by reason of my 
devotion to the god. 

There is another thing: — young men of the richer classes, who 
have not much to do, come about me of their own accord; they 
like to hear the pretenders examined, and they often imitate me, and 
examine others themselves; there are plenty of persons, as they soon 
enough discover, who think that they know something, but really 
know little or nothing: and then those who are examined by them 
instead of being angry with themselves are angry with me: This 
confounded Socrates, they say; this villainous misleader of youth! — 
and then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practise or 
teach? they do not know, and cannot tell; but in order that they 
may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges 
which are used against all philosophers about teaching things up in 
the clouds and under the earth, and having no gods, and making 
the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess 
that their pretence of knowledge has been detected — which is the 
truth: and as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, and 
are all in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have filled 
your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies. And this is 
the reason why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus and Lycon, 
have set upon me; Meletus, who has a quarrel with me on behalf 
of the poets; Anytus, on behalf of the craftsmen; Lycon, on behalf 
of the rhetoricians: and as I said at the beginning, I cannot expect 
to get rid of this mass of calumny all in a moment. And this, O men 


of Athens, is the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed noth- 
ing, I have dissembled nothing. And yet I know that this plainness 
of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof 
that I am speaking the truth? — this is the occasion and reason of 
their slander of me, as you will find out either in this or in any future 

I have said enough in my defence against the first class of my 
accusers; I turn to the second class, who are headed by Meletus, that 
good and patriotic man, as he calls himself. And now I will try to 
defend myself against them: these new accusers must also have their 
affidavit read. What do they say? Something of this sort: That 
Socrates is a doer of evil, and corrupter of the youth, and he does 
not believe in the gods of the State, and has other new divinities of 
his own. That is the sort of charge; and now let us examine the 
particular counts. He says that I am a doer of evil, vVho corrupt 
the youth; but I say, O men of Athens, that Meletus is a doer of evil, 
and the evil is that he makes a joke of a serious matter, and is too 
ready at bringing other men to trial from a pretended zeal and 
interest about matters in which he really never had the smallest in- 
terest. And the truth of this I will endeavor to prove. 

Come hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of you. You 
think a great deal about the improvement of youth? 

Yes, I do. 

Tell the judges, then, who is their improver; for you must know, 
as you have taken the pains to discover their corrupter, and are 
citing and accusing me before them. Speak, then, and tell the 
judges who their improver is. Observe, Meletus, that you are silent, 
and have nothing to say. But is not this rather disgraceful, and a 
very considerable proof of what I was saying, that you have no in- 
terest in the matter? Speak up, friend, and tell us who their 
improver is. 

The laws. 

But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know who 
the person is, who, in the first place, knows the laws. 

The judges, Socrates, who are present in court. 

What do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to instruct 
and improve youth? 


Certainly they are. 

What, all of them, or some only and not others? 

All of them. 

By the goddess Here, that is good news! There are plenty of 
improvers, then. And what do you say of the audience— do they 
improve them ? 

Yes, they do. 

And the Senators? 

Yes, the Senators improve them. 

But perhaps the ecdesiasts corrupt them? — or do they too 
improve them ? 

They improve them. 

Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all with the 
exception of myself; and I alone am their corrupter? Is that what 
you affirm ? 

That is what I stoutly affirm. 

I am very unfortunate if that is true. But suppose I ask you a 
question: Would you say that this also holds true in the case of 
horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good? Is 
not the exact opposite of this true? One man is able to do them 
good, or at least not many; the trainer of horses, that is to say, does 
them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure 
them? Is not that true, Meletus, of horses, or any other animals? 
Yes, certainly. Whether you and Anytus say yes or no, that is no 
matter. Happy indeed would be the condition of youth if they had 
one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their im- 
provers. And you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that you never 
had a thought about the young: your carelessness is seen in your 
not caring about matters spoken of in this very indictment. 

And now, Meletus, I must ask you another question: Which is 
better, to live among bad citizens, or among good ones? Answer, 
friend, I say; for that is a question which may be easily answered. 
Do not the good do their neighbors good, and the bad do them evil? 


And is there anyone who would rather be injured than benefited 
by those who live with him? Answer, my good friend; the law 
requires you to answer — does anyone like to be injured? 


Certainly not. 

And when you accuse me of corrupting and deteriorating the 
youth, do you allege that I corrupt them intentionally or uninten- 

Intentionally, I say. 

But you have just admitted that the good do their neighbors 
good, and the evil do them evil. Now is that a truth which your 
superior wisdom has recognized thus early in life, and am I, at my 
age, in such darkness and ignorance as not to know that if a man 
with whom I have to live is corrupted by me, I am very likely to be 
harmed by him, and yet I corrupt him, and intentionally, too? that 
is what you are saying, and of that you will never persuade me or 
any other human being. But either I do not corrupt them, or I 
corrupt them unintentionally, so that on either view of the case you 
lie. If my offence is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of 
unintentional offences: you ought to have taken me privately, and 
warned and admonished me; for if I had been better advised, I 
should have left off doing what I only did unintentionally — no 
doubt I should; whereas you hated to converse with me or teach 
me, but you indicted me in this court, which is a place not of 
instruction, but of punishment. 

I have shown, Athenians, as I was saying, that Meletus has no 
care at all, great or small, about the matter. But still I should like 
to know, Meletus, in what I am affirmed to corrupt the young. I 
suppose you mean, as I infer from your indictment, that I teach 
them not to acknowledge the gods which the State acknowledges, 
but some other new divinities or spiritual agencies in their stead. 
These are the lessons which corrupt the youth, as you say. 

Yes, that I say emphatically. 

Then, by the gods, Meletus, of whom we are speaking, tell me and 
the court, in somewhat plainer terms, what you mean! for I do not 
as yet understand whether you affirm that I teach others to acknowl- 
edge some gods, and therefore do believe in gods and am not an 
entire atheist — this you do not lay to my charge; but only that they 
are not the same gods which the city recognizes — the charge is that 
they are different gods. Or, do you mean to say that I am an atheist 
simply, and a teacher of atheism? 


I mean the latter — that you are a complete atheist. 

That is an extraordinary statement, Meletus. Why ido you say 
that ? Do you mean that I do not believe in the god-head of the sun 
or moon, which is the common creed of all men ? 

I assure you, judges, that he does not believe in them; for he 
says that the sun is stone, and the moon earth. 

Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras; 
and you have but a bad opinion of the judges, if you fancy them 
ignorant to such a degree as not to know that those doctrines are 
found in the books of Anaxagoras the Clazomenian, who is full of 
them. And these are the doctrines which the youth are said to learn 
of Socrates, when there are not unfrequently exhibitions of them at 
the theatre (price of admission one drachma at the most) ; and they 
might cheaply purchase them, and laugh at Socrates if he pretends 
to father such eccentricities. And so, Meletus, you really think that 
I do not believe in any god? 

I swear by Zeus that you believe absolutely in none at all. 

You are a liar, Meletus, not believed even by yourself. For I 
cannot help thinking, O men of Athens, that Meletus is reckless and 
impudent, and that he has written this indictment in a spirit of 
mere wantonness and youthful bravado. Has he not compounded a 
riddle, thinking to try me? He said to himself: I shall see whether 
this wise Socrates will discover my ingenious contradiction, or 
whether I shall be able to deceive him and the rest of them. For he 
certainly does appear to me to contradict himself in the indictment as 
much as if he said that Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, 
and yet of beUeving in them — but this surely is a piece of fun. 

I should like you, O men of Athens, to join me in examining what 
I conceive to be his inconsistency; and do you, Meletus, answer. 
And I must remind you that you are not to interrupt me if I speak 
in my accustomed manner. 

Did ever man, Meletus, believe in the existence of human things, 
and not of human beings? ... I wish, men of Athens, that he 
would answer, and not be always trying to get up an interruption. 
Did ever any man believe in horsemanship, and not in horses? or in 
flute-playing, and not in flute-players? No, my friend; I will an- 
swer to you and to the court, as you refuse to answer for yourself. 


There is no man who ever did. But now please to answer the next 
question: Can a man believe in spiritual and divine agencies, and 
not in spirits or demigods? 

He cannot. 

I am glad that I have extracted that answer, by the assistance o£ 
the court; nevertheless you swear in the indictment that I teach and 
believe in divine or spiritual agencies (new or old, no matter for 
that); at any rate, I believe in spiritual agencies, as you say and 
swear in the affidavit; but if I believe in divine beings, I must believe 
in spirits or demigods; is not that true? Yes, that is true, for I may 
assume that your silence gives assent to that. Now what are spirits 
or demigods? are they not either gods or the sons of gods? Is that 

Yes, that is true. 

But this is just the ingenious riddle of which I was speaking: the 
demigods or spirits are gods, and you say first that I don't believe in 
gods, and then again that I do believe in gods; that is, if I believe in 
demigods. For if the demigods are the illegitimate sons of gods, 
whether by the Nymphs or by any other mothers, as is thought, 
that, as all men will allow, necessarily implies the existence of their 
parents. You might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny 
that of horses and asses. Such nonsense, Meletus, could only have 
been intended by you as a trial of me. You have put this into the in- 
dictment because you had nothing real of which to accuse me. But 
no one who has a particle of understanding will ever be convinced 
by you that the same man can believe in divine and superhuman 
things, and yet not believe that there are gods and demigods and 

I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any 
elaborate defence is unnecessary; but as I was saying before, I cer- 
tainly have many enemies, and this is what will be my destruction 
if I am destroyed; of that I am certain; not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, 
but the envy and detraction of the world, which has been the death 
of many good men, and will probably be the death of many more; 
there is no danger of my being the last of them. 

Someone will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a 
course of Ufe which is Ukely to bring you to an untimely end? To 


him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is 
good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or 
dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is 
doing right or wrong — acting the part of a good man or of a bad. 
Whereas, according to your view, the heroes who fell at Troy were 
not good for much, and the son of Thetis above all, who altogether 
despised danger in comparison with disgrace; and when his god- 
dess mother said to him, in his eagerness to slay Hector, that if he 
avenged his companion Patroclus, and slew Hector, he would die 
himself — "Fate," as she said, "waits upon you next after Hector"; 
he, hearing this, utterly despised danger and death, and instead of 
fearing them, feared rather to live in dishonor, and not to avenge 
his friend. "Let me die next," he replies, "and be avenged of my 
enemy, rather than abide here by the beaked ships, a scorn and a 
burden of the earth." Had Achilles any thought of death and dan- 
ger? For wherever a man's place is, whether the place which he has 
chosen or that in which he has been placed by a commander, there 
he ought to remain in the hour of danger; he should not think of 
death or of anything, but of disgrace. And this, O men of Athens, 
is a true saying. 

Strange, indeed, would be my conduct, O men of Athens, if I 
who, when I was ordered by the generals whom you chose to com- 
mand me at Potidza and Amphipolis and DeUum, remained where 
they placed me, like any other man, facing death — if, I say, now, 
when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfil the philoso- 
pher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to 
desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would 
indeed be strange, and I might justly be arraigned in court for deny- 
ing the existence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was 
afraid of death : then I should be fancying that I was wise whea I 
was not wise. For this fear of death is indeed the pretence of wis- 
dom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the 
unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their 
fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. 
Is there not here conceit of knowledge, which is a disgraceful sort 
of ignorance? And this is the point in which, as I think, I am 
superior to men in general, and in which I might perhaps fancy 


myself wiser than other men — that whereas I know but little of the 
world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that 
injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is 
evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible 
good rather than a certain evil. And therefore if you let me go now, 
and reject the counsels of Anytus, who said that if I were not put 
to death I ought not to have been prosecuted, and that if I escape 
now, your sons will all be utterly ruined by listening to my words — 
if you say to me, Socrates, this time we will not mind Anytus, and 
will let you off, but upon one condition, that you are not to inquire 
and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught doing 
this again you shall die — if this was the condition on which you let 
me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honor and love you; but 
I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength 
I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy, 
exhorting anyone whom I meet after my manner, and convincing 
him, saying: O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great 
and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up 
the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so 
little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the 
soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed 
of this? And if the person with whom I am arguing says: Yes, but 
I do care; I do not depart or let him go at once; I interrogate and 
examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, 
but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervaluing the 
greater, and overvaluing the less. And this I should say to everyone 
whom I meet, young and old, citizen and ahen, but especially to 
the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For this is the com- 
mand of God, as I would have you know; and I believe that to this 
day no greater good has ever happened in the State than my service 
to the God. For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old 
and young alike, not to take thought for your persons and your 
properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improve- 
ment of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but 
that from virtue come money and every other good of man, public 
as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine 
which corrupts the youth, my influence is ruinous indeed. But if 


anyone says that this is not my teaching, he is speaking an untruth. 
Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or 
not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whatever you 
do, know that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die 
many times. 

Men of Athens, do not interrupt, but hear me; there was an 
agreement between us that you should hear me out. And I think 
that what I am going to say will do you good: for I have something 
more to say, at which you may be inclined to cry out; but I beg 
that you will not do this. I would have you know that, if you kill 
such a one as I am, you will injure yourselves more than you will 
injure me. Meletus and Anytus will not injure me: they cannot; 
for it is not in the nature of things that a bad man should injure 
a better than himself. I do not deny that he may, perhaps, kill 
him, or drive him into exile, or deprive him of civil rights; and he 
may imagine, and others may imagine, that he is doing him a 
great injury: but in that I do not agree with him; for the evil of 
doing as Anytus is doing — of unjustly taking away another man's 
Ufe — is greater far. And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue 
for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may 
not sin against the God, or lightly reject his boon by condemning 
me. For if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, 
who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of 
gadfly, given to the State by the God; and the State is like a great 
and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, 
and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God 
has given the State and all day long and in all places am always 
fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. 
And as you will not easily find another like me, I would advise you 
to spare me. I dare say that you may feel irritated at being suddenly 
awakened when you are caught napping; and you may think that 
if you were to strike me dead, as Anytus advises, which you easily 
might, then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, 
unless God in his care of you gives you another gadfly. And that I 
am given to you by God is proved by this: that if I had been like 
other men, I should not have neglected all my own concerns, or 
patiently seen the neglect of them during all these years, and have 


been doing yours, coming to you individually, like a father or elder 
brother, exhorting you to regard virtue; this, I say, would not be 
like human nature. And had I gained anything, or if my exhorta- 
tions had been paid, there would have been some sense in that: but 
now, as you will perceive, not even the impudence of my accusers 
dares to say that I have ever exacted or sought pay of anyone; they 
have no witness of that. And I have a witness of the truth of what 
I say; my poverty is a sufficient witness. 

Someone may wonder why I go about in private, giving advice 
and busying myself with the concerns of others, but do not venture 
to come forward in public and advise the State. I will tell you the 
reason of this. You have often heard me speak of an oracle or sign 
which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in 
the indictment. This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The 
sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do 
something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do 
anything, and this is what stands in the way of my being a politician. 
And rightly, as I think. For I am certain, O men of Athens, that if 
I had engaged in politics, I should have perished long ago and done 
no good either to you or to myself. And don't be offended at my 
teUing you the truth: for the truth is that no man who goes to war 
with you or any other multitude, honestly struggling against the 
commission of unrighteousness and wrong in the State, will save 
his life; he who will really fight for the right, if he would live even 
for a little while, must have a private station and not a public one. 

I can give you as proofs of this, not words only, but deeds, which 
you value more than words. Let me tell you a passage of my own 
life, which will prove to you that I should never have yielded to 
injustice from any fear of death, and that if I had not yielded I 
should have died at once. I will tell you a story — tasteless, perhaps, 
and commonplace, but nevertheless true. The only office of State 
which I ever held, O men of Athens, was that of Senator; the tribe 
Antiochis, which is my tribe, had the presidency at the trial of the 
generals who had not taken up the bodies of the slain after the battle 
of Arginusae; and you proposed to try them all together, which was 
illegal, as you all thought afterwards; but at the time I was the only 
one of the Prytanes who was opposed to the illegality, and I gave 


my vote against you; and when the orators threatened to impeach 
and arrest me, and have me taken away, and you called and shouted, 
I made up my mind that I would run the risk, having law and 
justice with me, rather than take part in your injustice because I 
feared imprisonment and death. This happened in the days of the 
democracy. But when the oligarchy of the Thirty was in power, 
they sent for me and four others into the rotunda, and bade us bring 
Leon the Salaminian from Salami s, as they wanted to execute him. 
This was a specimen of the sort of commands which they were 
always giving with the view of implicating as many as possible 
in their crimes; and then I showed, not in words only, but in deed, 
that, if I may be allowed to use such an expression, I cared not a 
straw for death, and that my only fear was the fear of doing an 
unrighteous or unholy thing. For the strong arm of that oppressive 
power did not frighten me into doing wrong; and when we came 
out of the rotunda the other four went to Salamis and fetched Leon, 
but I went quietly home. For which I might have lost my life, had 
not the power of the Thirty shortly afterwards come to an end. 
And to this many will witness. 

Now do you really imagine that I could have survived all these 
years, if I had led a public life, supf)o$ing that like a good man I 
had always supported the right and had made justice, as I ought, the 
first thing? No, indeed, men of Athens, neither I nor any other. 
But I have been always the same in all my actions, public as well as 
private, and never have I yielded any base compliance to those who 
are slanderously termed my disciples or to any other. For the truth 
is that I have no regular disciples: but if anyone likes to come and 
hear me while I am pursuing my mission, whether he be young or 
old, he may freely come. Nor do I converse with those who pay 
only, and not with those who do not pay; but anyone, whether he 
be rich or poor, may ask and answer me and listen to my words; and 
whether he turns out to be a bad man or a good one, that cannot be 
justly laid to my charge, as I never taught him anything. And if 
anyone says that he has ever learned or heard anything from me in 
private which all the world has not heard, I should like you to know 
that he is speaking an untruth. 

But I shall be asked, Why do people delight in continually con- 


versing with you? I have told you already, Athenians, the whole 
truth about this: they Hke to hear the cross-examination of the pre- 
tenders to wisdom; there is amusement in this. And this is a duty 
which the God has imposed upon me, as I am assured by oracles, 
visions, and in every sort of way in which the will of divine power 
was ever signified to anyone. This is true, O Athenians; or, if not 
true, would be soon refuted. For if I am really corrupting the youth, 
and have corrupted some of them already, those of them who have 
grown up and have become sensible that I gave them bad advice 
in the days of their youth should come forward as accusers and take 
their revenge; and if they do not like to come themselves, some of 
their relatives, fathers, brothers, or other kinsmen, should say what 
evil their families suffered at my hands. Now is their time. Many 
of them I see in the court. There is Crito, who is of the same 
age and of the same deme with myself; and there is Critobulus his 
son, whom I also see. Then again there is Lysanias of Sphettus, 
who is the father of iEschines — he is present; and also there is Anti- 
phon of Cephisus, who is the father of Epignes; and there are the 
brothers of several who have associated with me. There is Nico- 
stratus the son of Theosdotides, and the brother of Theodotus (now 
Theodotus himself is dead, and therefore he, at any rate, will not 
seek to stop him) ; and there is P^ralus the son of Demodocus, who 
had a brother Theages; and Adeimantus the son of Ariston, whose 
brother Plato is present; and ^Eantodorus, who is the brother of 
Apollodorus, whom I also see. I might mention a great many 
others, any of whom Meletus should have produced as witnesses in 
the course of his speech; and let him still produce them, if he has 
forgotten; I will make way for him. And let him say, if he has any 
testimony of the sort which he can produce. Nay, Athenians, the 
very opposite is the truth. For all these are ready to witness on 
behalf of the corrupter, of the destroyer of their kindred, as Meletus 
and Anytus call me; not the corrupted youth only — there might have 
been a motive for that — but their uncorrupted elder relatives. Why 
should they too support me with their testimony? Why, indeed, 
except for the sake of truth and justice, and because they know that 
I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus is lying. 
Well, Athenians, this and the like of this is nearly all the defence 


which I have to offer. Yet a word more. Perhaps there may be 
someone who is offended at me, when he calls to mind how he 
himself, on a similar or even a less serious occasion, had recourse to 
prayers and supplications with many tears, and how he produced 
his children in court, which was a moving spectacle, together with 
a posse of his relations and friends; whereas I, who am probably in 
danger of my life, will do none of these things. Perhaps this may 
come into his mind, and he may be set against me, and vote in 
anger because he is displeased at this. Now if there be such a person 
among you, which I am far from affirming, I may fairly reply to 
him: My friend, I am a man, and like other men, a creature of flesh 
and blood, and not of wood or stone, as Homer says; and I have 
a family, yes, and sons, O Athenians, three in number, one of whom 
is growing up, and the two others are still young; and yet I will not 
bring any of them hither in order to petition you for an acquittal. 
And why not ? Not from any self-will or disregard of you. Whether 
I am or am not afraid of death is another question, of which I will 
not now speak. But my reason simply is that I feel such conduct 
to be discreditable to myself, and you, and the whole State. One 
who has reached my years, and who has a name for wisdom, whether 
deserved or not, ought not to debase himself. At any rate, the world 
has decided that Socrates is in some way superior to other men. 
And if those among you who are said to be superior in wisdom and 
courage, and any other virtue, demean themselves in this way, how 
shameful is their conduct! I have seen men of reputation, when 
they have been condemned, behaving in the strangest manner: they 
seemed to fancy that they were going to suffer something dreadful 
if they died, and that they could be immortal if you only allowed 
them to live; and I think that they were a dishonor to the State, and 
that any stranger coming in would say of them that the most eminent 
men of Athens, to whom the Athenians themselves give honor and 
command, are no better than women. And I say that these things 
ought not to be done by those of us who are of reputation; and if 
they are done, you ought not to permit them; you ought rather to 
show that you are more inclined to condemn, not the man who is 
quiet, but the man who gets up a doleful scene, and makes the city 


But, setting aside the question of dishonor, there seems to be 
something wrong in petitioning a judge, and thus procuring an 
acquittal instead of informing and convincing him. For his duty is, 
not to make a present of justice, but to give judgment; and he has 
sworn that he will judge according to the laws, and not according 
to his own good pleasure; and neither he nor we should get into the 
habit of perjuring ourselves — there can be no piety in that. Do not 
then require me to do what I consider dishonorable and impious 
and wrong, especially now, when I am being tried for impiety on 
the indictment of Meletus. For if, O men of Athens, by force of 
persuasion and entreaty, I could overpower your oaths, then I should 
be teaching you to believe that there are no gods, and convict myself, 
in my own defence, of not believing in them. But that is not the 
case; for I do believe that there are gods, and in a far higher sense 
than that in which any of my accusers believe in them. And to you 
and to God I commit my cause, to be determined by you as is best 
for you and me. 

There are many reasons why I am not grieved, O men of Athens, 
at the vote of condemnation. I expected this, and am only surprised 
that the votes are so nearly equal; for I had thought that the majority 
against me would have been far larger; but now, had thirty votes 
gone over to the other side, I should have been acquitted. And I 
may say that I have escaped Meletus. And I may say more; for 
without the assistance of Anytus and Lycon, he would not have 
had a fifth part of the votes, as the law requires, in which case he 
would have incurred a fine of a thousand drachmae, as is evident. 

And so he proposes death as the penalty. And what shall I pro- 
pose on my part, O men of Athens? Clearly that which is my due. 
And what is that which I ought to pay or to receive? What shall 
be done to the man who has never had the wit to be idle during 
his whole life; but has been careless of what the many care about — 
wealth, and family interests, and military offices, and speaking in 
the assembly, and magistracies, and plots, and parties. Reflecting 
that I was really too honest a man to follow in this way and live, 
I did not go where I could do no good to you or to myself; but where 
I could do the greatest good privately to everyone of you, thither 


I went, and sought to persuade every man among you that he must 
look to himself, and seek virtue and wisdom before he looks to his 
private interests, and look to the State before he looks to the interests 
of the State; and that this should be the order which he observes 
in all his actions. What shall be done to such a one? Doubtless 
some good thing, O men of Athens, if he has his reward; and the 
good should be of a kind suitable to him. What would be a reward 
suitable to a poor man who is your benefactor, who desires leisure 
that he may instruct you? There can be no more fitting reward than 
maintenance in the Prytaneum, O men of Athens, a reward which 
he deserves far more than the citizen who has won the prize at 
Olympia in the horse or chariot race, whether the chariots were 
drawn by two horses or by many. For I am in want, and he has 
enough; and he only gives you the appearance of happiness, and I 
give you the reality. And if I am to estimate the penalty justly, I 
say that maintenance in the Prytaneum is the just return. 

Perhaps you may think that I am braving you in saying this, as 
in what I said before about the tears and prayers. But that is not 
the case. I speak rather because I am convinced that I never inten- 
tionally wronged anyone, although I cannot convince you of that — 
for we have had a short conversation only; but if there were a law 
at Athens, such as there is in other cities, that a capital cause should 
not be decided in one day, then I believe that I should have con- 
vinced you; but now the time is too short. I cannot in a moment 
refute great slanders; and, as I am convinced that I never wronged 
another, I will assuredly not wrong myself. I will not say of myself 
that I deserve any evil, or propose any penalty. Why should I? 
Because I am afraid of the penalty of death which Meletus proposes? 
When I do not know whether death is a good or an evil, why should 
I propose a penalty which would certainly be an evil? Shall I say 
imprisonment? And why should I live in prison, and be the slave 
of the magistrates of the year — of the Eleven? Or shall the penalty 
be a fine, and imprisonment until the fine is paid? There is the 
same objection. I should have to Ue in prison, for money I have 
none, and I cannot pay. And if I say exile (and this may possibly 
be the penalty which you will affix), I must indeed be blinded by 
the love of life if I were to consider that when you, who are my 


own citizens, cannot endure my discourses and words, and have 
found them so grievous and odious that you would fain have done 
with them, others are likely to endure me. No, indeed, men of 
Athens, that is not very likely. And what a life should I lead, at my 
age, wandering from city to city, living in ever-changing exile, and 
always being driven out! For I am quite sure that into whatever 
place I go, as here so also there, the young men will come to me; 
and if I drive them away, their elders will drive me out at their 
desire: and if I let them come, their fathers and friends will drive 
me out for their sakes. Someone will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot 
you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and 
no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in 
making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that 
this would be a disobedience to a divine command, and therefore 
that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; 
and if I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse 
about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining 
myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not 
worth living — that you are still less likely to believe. And yet what 
I say is true, although a thing of which it is hard for me to persuade 
you. Moreover, I am not accustomed to think that I deserve any 
punishment. Had I money I might have proposed to give you what 
I had, and have been none the worse. But you see that I have none, 
and can only ask you to proportion the fine to my means. How- 
ever, I think that I could afford a mina, and therefore I propose that 
penalty; Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus, my friends here, 
bid me say thirty minac, and they will be the sureties. Well then, 
say thirty min^, let that be the penalty; for that they will be ample 
security to you. 

Not much time will be gained, O Athenians, in return for the 
evil name which you will get from the detractors of the city, who 
will say that you killed Socrates, a wise man; for they will call me 
wise even although I am not wise when they want to reproach 
you. If you had waited a little while, your desire would have been 
fulfilled in the course of nature. For I am far advanced in years, 
as you may perceive, and not far from death. I am speaking now 


only to those of you who have condemned me to death. And I have 
another thing to say to them: You think that I was convicted 
through deficiency of words — I mean, that if I had thought fit to 
leave nothing undone, nothing unsaid, I might have gained an 
acquittal. Not so; the deficiency which led to my conviction was not 
of words — certainly not. But I had not the boldness or impudence 
or inclination to address you as you would have liked me to address 
you, weeping and wailing and lamenting, and saying and doing 
many things which you have been accustomed to hear from others, 
and which, as I say, are unworthy of me. But I thought that I ought 
not to do anything common or mean in the hour of danger: nor do 
I now repent of the manner of my defence, and I would rather die 
having spoken after my manner, than speak in your manner and 
live. For neither in war nor yet at law ought any man to use every 
way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that 
if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his 
pursuers, he may escape death; and in other dangers there are other 
ways of escaping death, if a man is willing to say and do anything. 
The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding 
unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death. I am old and move 
slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me, and my accusers 
are keen and quick, and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, 
has overtaken them. And now I depart hence condemned by you to 
suffer the penalty of death, and they, too, go their ways condemned 
by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; and I must 
abide by my award — let them abide by theirs. I suppose that these 
things may be regarded as fated — and I think that they are well. 

And now, O men who have condemned me, I would fain prophesy 
to you; for I am about to die, and that is the hour in which men 
are gifted with prophetic power. And I prophesy to you who are 
my murderers, that immediately after my death punishment far 
heavier than you have inflicted on me will surely await you. Me 
you have killed because you wanted to escape the accuser, and not 
to give an account of your lives. But that will not be as you sup- 
pose: far otherwise. For I say that there will be more accusers of 
you than there are now; accusers whom hitherto I have restrained: 
and as they are younger they will be more severe with you, and you 


will be more offended at them. For if you think that by killing 
men you can avoid the accuser censuring your lives, you are mis- 
taken; that is not a way of escape which is either possible or honor- 
able; the easiest and noblest way is not to be crushing others, but 
to be improving yourselves. This is the prophecy which I utter 
before my departure, to the judges who have condemned me. 

Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like also to talk 
with you about this thing which has happened, while the magistrates 
are busy, and before I go to the place at which I must die. Stay 
then awhile, for we may as well talk with one another while there 
is time. You are my friends, and I should like to show you the 
meaning of this event which has happened to me. O my judges — 
for you I may truly call judges — I should like to tell you of a wonder- 
ful circumstance. Hitherto the familiar oracle within me has con- 
stantly been in the habit of opposing me even about trifles, if I was 
going to make a slip or error about anything; and now as you see 
there has come upon me that which may be thought, and is generally 
believed to be, the last and worst evil. But the oracle made no sign 
of opposition, either as I was leaving my house and going out in 
the morning, or when I was going up into this court, or while I 
was sfjeaking, at anything which I was going to say; and yet I have 
often been stopped in the middle of a sjjeech; but now in nothing 
I either said or did touching this matter has the oracle opposed me. 
What do I take to be the explanation of this? I will tell you. I 
regard this as a proof that what has happened to me is a good, and 
that those of us who think that death is an evil are in error. This 
is a great proof to me of what I am saying, for the customary sign 
would surely have opposed me had I been going to evil and not to 

Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great 
reason to hope that death is a good, for one of two things: either 
death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as 
men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world 
to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but 
a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by the sight of 
dreams, death will be an unsp)eakable gain. For if a jDerson were to 
select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams. 


and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, 
and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had 
passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this 
one, I think that any man, I will not say a private man, but even 
the great king, will not find many such days or nights, when com- 
pared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die 
is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the 
journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, 
what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this? 
If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered 
from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges 
who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and 
^acus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous 
in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What 
would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and 
Musacus and Hesiod and Homer.' Nay, if this be true, let me die 
again and again. I, too, shall have a wonderful interest in a place 
where I can converse with Palamedes, and Ajax the son of Telamon, 
and other heroes of old, who have suffered death through an unjust 
judgment; and there will be no small pleasure, as I think, in com- 
paring my own sufferings with theirs. Above all, I shall be able to 
continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, 
so also in that; I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be 
wise, and is not. What would not a man give, O judges, to be able 
to examine the leader of the great Trojan exp)edition; or Odysseus 
or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What 
infinite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking 
them questions! For in that world they do not put a man to death 
for this; certainly not. For besides being happier in that world than 
in this, they will be immortal, if what is said is true. 

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know 
this of a truth — that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life 
or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has 
my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see 
clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore 
the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with 
my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm. 


although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I 
day gently blame them. 

Still I have a favor to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, 
I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have 
you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about 
riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be 
something when they are really nothing — ^then reprove them, as I 
have reproved you, for not caring about that for which they ought 
to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really 
nothing. And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice 
at your hands. 

The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, 
and you to live. Which is better, God only knows. 



Socrates Crito 

Scene: The Prison of Socrates 


WHY have you come at this hour, Crito? it must be quite 
Crito. Yes, certainly. 

Soc. What is the exact time? 

Cr. The dawn is breaking. 

Soc. I wonder the keeper of the prison would let you in. 

Cr. He knows me because I often come, Socrates; moreover, I 
have done him a kindness. 

Soc. And are you only just come? 

Cr. No, I came some time ago. 

Soc. Then why did you sit and say nothing, instead of awakening 
me at once? 

Cr. Why, indeed, Socrates, I myself would rather not have all 
this sleeplessness and sorrow. But I have been wondering at your 
peaceful slumbers, and that was the reason why I did not awaken 
you, because I wanted you to be out of pain. I have always thought 
you happy in the calmness of your temperament; but never did I 
see the like of the easy, cheerful way in which you bear this calamity. 

Soc. Why, Crito, when a man has reached my age he ought not 
to be repining at the prospect of death. 

Cr. And yet other old men find themselves in similar misfortunes, 
and age does not prevent them from repining. 

Soc. That may be. But you have not told me why you come at 
this early hour. 

Cr. I come to bring you a message which is sad and painful; not, 



as I believe, to yourself, but to all of us who are your friends, and 
saddest of all to me. 

Soc. What! I suppose that the ship has come from Delos, on the 
arrival of which I am to die? 

Cr. No, the ship has not actually arrived, but she will probably be 
here to-day, as persons who have come from Sunium tell me that 
they have left her there; and therefore to-morrow, Socrates, will be 
the last day of your life. 

Soc. Very well, Crito; if such is the will of God, I am willing; but 
my belief is that there will be a delay of a day. 

Cr. Why do you say this? 

Soc. I will tell you. I am to die on the day after the arrival of 
the ship? 

Cr. Yes; that is what the authorities say. 

Soc. But I do not think that the ship will be here until to-morrow; 
this I gather from a vision which I had last night, or rather only 
just now, when you fortunately allowed me to sleep. 

Cr. And what was the nature of the vision? 

Soc. There came to me the likeness of a woman, fair and comely, 
clothed in white raiment, who called to me and said: O Socrates — 

"The third day hence, to Phthia shalt thou go." 

Cr. What a singular dream, Socrates! 

Soc. There can be no doubt about the meaning Crito, I think. 

Cr. Yes: the meaning is only too clear. But, O! my beloved 
Socrates, let me entreat you once more to take my advice and escape. 
For if you die I shall not only lose a friend who can never be re- 
placed, but there is another evil: people who do not know you and 
me will believe that I might have saved you if I had been willing to 
give money, but that I did not care. Now, can there be a worse 
disgrace than this — that I should be thought to value money more 
than the life of a friend? For the many will not be persuaded that 
I wanted you to escape, and that you refused. 

Soc. But why, my dear Crito, should we care about the opinion of 
the many ? Good men, and they are the only persons who are worth 
considering, will think of these things truly as they happened. 

Cr. But do you see, Socrates, that the opinion of the many must 


be regarded, as is evident in your own case, because they can do the 
very greatest evil to anyone who has lost their good opinion ? 

Soc. I only wish, Crito, that they could; for then they could also 
do the greatest good, and that would be well. But the truth is, that 
they can do neither good nor evil: they cannot make a man wise 
or make him foolish; and whatever they do is the result of chance. 

Cr. Well, I will not dispute about that; but please to tell me, 
Socrates, whether you are not acting out of regard to me and your 
other friends: are you not afraid that if you escape hence we may 
get into trouble with the informers for having stolen you away, and 
lose either the whole or a great part of our prof)erty; or that even 
a worse evil may happen to us? Now, if this is your fear, be at ease; 
for in order to save you, we ought surely to run this or even a greater 
risk; be persuaded, then, and do as I say. 

Soc. Yes, Crito, that is one fear which you mention, but by no 
means the only one. 

Cr. Fear not. There are persons who at no great cost are willing 
to save you and bring you out of prison; and as for the informers, 
you may observe that they are far from being exorbitant in their 
demands; a little money will satisfy them. My means, which, as I 
am sure, are ample, are at your service, and if you have a scruple 
about spending all mine, here are strangers who will give you the 
use of theirs; and one of them, Simmias the Theban, has brought a 
sum of money for this very purpose; and Cebes and many others 
are willing to spend their money too. I say, therefore, do not on 
that account hesitate about making your escape, and do not say, as 
you did in the court, that you will have a difficulty in knowing what 
to do with yourself if you escape. For men will love you in other 
places to which you may go, and not in Athens only; there are 
friends of mine in Thessaly, if you like to go to them, who will value 
and protect you, and no Thessalian will give you any trouble. Nor 
can I think that you are justified, Socrates, in betraying your own life 
when you might be saved; this is playing into the hands of your 
enemies and destroyers; and moreover I should say that you were 
betraying your children; for you might bring them up and educate 
them; instead of which you go away and leave them, and they will 
have to take their chance; and if they do not meet with the usual 


fate of orphans, there will be small thanks to you. No man should 
bring children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the 
end in their nurture and education. But you are choosing the easier 
part, as I think, not the better and manlier, which would rather 
have become one who professes virtue in all his actions, like your- 
self. And, indeed, I am ashamed not only of you, but of us who are 
your friends, when I reflect that this entire business of yours will be 
attributed to our want of courage. The trial need never have come 
on, or might have been brought to another issue; and the end of all, 
which is the crowning absurdity, will seem to have been permitted 
by us, through cowardice and baseness, who might have saved you, 
as you might have saved yourself, if we had been good for anything 
(for there was no difficulty in escaping) ; and we did not see how 
disgraceful, Socrates, and also miserable all this will be to us as well 
as to you. Make your mind up then, or rather have your mind 
already made up, for the time of deliberation is over, and there 
is only one thing to be done, which must be done, if at all, this 
very night, and which any delay will render all but impossible; I 
beseech you therefore, Socrates, to be persuaded by me, and to do 
as I say. 

Soc. Dear Crlto, your zeal is invaluable, if a right one; but if 
wrong, the greater the zeal the greater the evil; and therefore we 
ought to consider whether these things shall be done or not. For 
I am and always have been one of those natures who must be guided 
by reason, whatever the reason may be which upwn reflection app)ears 
to me to be the best; and now that this fortune has come upon me, 
I cannot put away the reasons which I have before given: the prin- 
ciples which I have hitherto honored and revered I still honor, and 
unless we can find other and better principles on the instant, I am 
certain not to agree with you; no, not even if the power of the 
multitude could inflict many more imprisonments, confiscations, 
deaths, frightening us like children with hobgoblin terrors. But 
what will be the fairest way of considering the question? Shall I 
return to your old argument about the opinions of men, some of 
which are to be regarded, and others, as we were saying, are not to 
be regarded? Now were we right in maintaining this before I was 
condemned? And has the argument which was once good now 


proved to be talk for the sake of talking; in fact an amusement only, 
and altogether vanity? That is what I want to consider with your 
help, Crito: whether, under my present circumstances, the argument 
appears to be in any way different or not; and is to be allowed by 
me or disallowed. That argument, which, as I believe, is maintained 
by many who assume to be authorities, was to the effect, as I was 
saying, that the opinions of some men are to be regarded, and of 
other men not to be regarded. Now you, Crito, are a disinterested 
person who are not going to die to-morrow — at least, there is no 
human probability of this, and you are therefore not Hable to be 
deceived by the circumstances in which you are placed. Tell me, 
then, whether I am right in saying that some opinions, and the 
opinions of some men only, are to be valued, and other opinions, and 
the opinions of other men, are not to be valued. I ask you whether 
I was right in maintaining this? 

Cr, Certainly. 

Soc. The good are to be regarded, and not the bad ? 

Cr. Yes. 

Soc. And the opinions of the wise are good, and the opinions of 
the unwise are evil? 

Cr. Certainly. 

Soc. And what was said about another matter? Was the disciple 
in gymnastics supposed to attend to the praise and blame and opinion 
of every man, or of one man only — his physician or trainer, whoever 
that was? 

Cr. Of one man only. 

Soc. And he ought to fear the censure and welcome the praise of 
that one only, and not of the many? 

Cr. That is clear. 

Soc. And he ought to live and train, and eat and drink in the 
way which seems good to his single master who has understanding, 
rather than according to the opinion of all other men put together ? 

Cr. True. 

Soc. And if he disobeys and disregards the opinion and approval 
of the one, and regards the opinion of the many who have no under- 
standing, will he not suffer evil ? 

Cr. Certainly he will. 


Soc. And what will the evil be, whither tending and what aflect- 
ing, in the disobedient person? 

Cr. Clearly, affecting the body; that is what is destroyed by the 

Soc. Very good; and is not this true, Crito, of other things which 
we need not separately enumerate? In the matter of just and unjust, 
fair and foul, good and evil, which are the subjects of our present 
consultation, ought we to follow the opinion of the many and to 
fear them; or the opinion of the one man who has understanding, 
and whom we ought to fear and reverence more than all the rest of 
the world: and whom deserting we shall destroy and injure that 
principle in us which may be assumed to be improved by justice and 
deteriorated by injustice; is there not such a principle? 

Cr. Certainly there is, Socrates. 

Soc. Take a parallel instance; if, acting under the advice of men 
who have no understanding, we destroy that which is improvable by 
health and deteriorated by disease — when that has been destroyed, I 
say, would life be worth having? And that is — the body? 

Cr. Yes. 

Soc. Could we live, having an evil and corrupted body? 

Cr. Certainly not. 

Soc. And will life be worth having, if that higher part of man be 
depraved, which is improved by justice and deteriorated by injustice? 
Do we suppMse that principle, whatever it may be in man, which 
has to do with justice and injustice, to be inferior to the body? 

Cr. Certainly not. 

Soc. More honored, then? 

Cr. Far more honored. 

Soc. Then, my friend, we must not regard what the many say of us: 
but what he, the one man who has understanding of just and unjust, 
will say, and what the truth will say. And therefore you begin in 
error when you suggest that we should regard the opinion of the 
many about just and unjust, good and evil, honorable and dis- 
honorable. Well, someone will say, "But the many can kill us." 

Cr. Yes, Socrates; that will clearly be the answer. 

Soc. That is true; but still I find with surprise that the old argu- 
ment is, as I conceive, unshaken as ever. And I should like to know 


whether I may say the same of another proposition — that not life, 
but a good life, is to be chiefly valued? 

Cr. Yes, that also remains. 

Soc, And a good life is equivalent to a just and honorable one — 
that holds also? 

Cr. Yes, that holds. 

Soc. From these premises I proceed to argue the question whether 
I ought or ought not to try to escape without the consent of the 
Athenians: and if I am clearly right in escaping, then I will make 
the attempt; but if not, I will abstain. The other considerations 
which you mention, of money and loss of character, and the duty of 
educating children, are, I fear, only the doctrines of the multitude, 
who would be as ready to call people to life, if they were able, as 
they are to put them to death — and with as little reason. But now, 
since the argument has thus far prevailed, the only question which 
remains to be considered is, whether we shall do rightly either in 
escaping or in suffering others to aid in our escape and paying them 
in money and thanks, or whether we shall not do rightly; and if 
the latter, then death or any other calamity which may ensue on my 
remaining here must not be allowed to enter into the calculation. 

Cr. I think that you are right, Socrates; how then shall we 
proceed ? 

Soc. Let us consider the matter together, and do you either refute 
me if you can, and I will be convinced; or else cease, my dear friend, 
from repeating to me that I ought to escape against the wishes of 
the Athenians: for I am extremely desirous to be persuaded by you, 
but not against my own better judgment. And now please to con- 
sider my first position, and do your best to answer me. 

Cr. I will do my best. 

Soc. Are we to say that we are never intentionally to do wrong, 
or that in one way we ought and in another way we ought not to 
do wrong, or is doing wrong always evil and dishonorable, as I was 
just now saying, and as has been already acknowledged by us? Are 
all our former admissions which were made within a few days to 
be thrown away? And have we, at our age, been earnestly dis- 
coursing with one another all our life long only to discover that we 
are no better than children? Or are we to rest assured, in spite of 


the opinion of the many, and in spite of consequences whether 
better or worse, of the truth of what was then said, that injustice is 
always an evil and dishonor to him who acts unjustly? Shall we 
afiirm that? 

Cr. Yes. 

Soc. Then we must do no wrong? 

Cr. Certainly not. 

Soc. Nor when injured injure in return, as the many imagine; 
for we must injure no one at all? 

Cr. Clearly not. 

Soc. Again, Crito, may we do evil ? 

Cr. Surely not, Socrates. 

Soc. And what of doing evil in return for evil, which is the 
morality of the many — is that just or not? 

Cr. Not just. 

Soc. For doing evil to another is the same as injuring him? 

Cr. Very true. 

Soc. Then we ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to any- 
one, whatever evil we may have suffered from him. But I would 
have you consider, Crito, whether you really mean what you are 
saying. For this opinion has never been held, and never will be held, 
by any considerable number of persons; and those who are agreed 
and those who are not agreed upon this point have no common 
ground, and can only despise one another, when they see how widely 
they differ. Tell me, then, whether you agree with and assent to my 
first principle, that neither injury nor retaliation nor warding off evil 
by evil is ever right. And shall that be the premise of our agreement? 
Or do you decline and dissent from this? For this has been of old 
and is still my opinion; but, if you are of another opinion, let me 
hear what you have to say. If, however, you remain of the same 
mind as formerly, I will proceed to the next step. 

Cr. You may proceed, for I have not changed my mind. 

Soc. Then I will proceed to the next step, which may be put in 
the form of a question: Ought a man to do what he admits to be 
right, or ought he to betray the right ? 

Cr. He ought to do what he thinks right. 

Soc. But if this is true, what is the application? In leaving the 


prison against the will of the Athenians, do I wrong any? or rather 
do I not wrong those whom I ought least to wrong? Do I not desert 
the principles which were acknowledged by us to be just? What do 
you say? 

Cr. I cannot tell, Socrates, for I do not know. 

Soc. Then consider the matter in this way: Imagine that I am 
about to play truant (you may call the proceeding by any name which 
you like), and the laws and the government come and interrogate 
me: "Tell us, Socrates," they say; "what are you about? are you 
going by an act of yours to overturn us — the laws and the whole 
State, as far as in you lies? Do you imagine that a State can subsist 
and not be overthrown, in which the decisions of law have no power, 
but are set aside and overthrown by individuals?" What will be 
our answer, Crito, to these and the like words? Anyone, and espe- 
cially a clever rhetorician, will have a good deal to urge about the 
evil of setting aside the law which requires a sentence to be carried 
out; and we might reply, "Yes; but the State has injured us and 
given an unjust sentence." Suppose I say that? 

Cr. Very good, Socrates. 

Soc. "And was that our agreement with you?" the law would say, 
"or were you to abide by the sentence of the State?" And if I were 
to express astonishment at their saying this, the law would probably 
add: "Answer, Socrates, instead of opening your eyes: you are in the 
habit of asking and answering questions. Tell us what complaint 
you have to make against us which justifies you in attempting to 
destroy us and the State? In the first place did we not bring you into 
existence? Your father married your mother by our aid and begat 
you. Say whether you have any objection to urge against those of 
us who regulate marriage?" None, I should reply. "Or against 
those of us who regulate the system of nurture and education of 
children in which you were trained ? Were not the laws, who have 
the charge of this right in commanding your father to train you 
in music and gymnastic?" Right, I should reply. "Well, then, since 
you were brought into the world and nurtured and educated by 
us, can you deny in the first place that you are our child and slave, 
as your fathers were before you ? And if this is true you are not on 
equal terms with us; nor can you think that you have a right to do 


to us what we are doing to you. Would you have any right to strike 
or revile or do any other evil to a father or to your master, if you 
had one, when you have been struck or reviled by him, or received 
some other evil at his hands? — you would not say this? And be- 
cause we think right to destroy you, do you think that you have 
any right to destroy us in return, and your country as far as in you 
lies? And will you, O professor of true virtue, say that you are 
justified in this? Has a philosopher like you failed to discover that 
our country is more to be valued and higher and holier far than 
mother or father or any ancestor, and more to be regarded in the 
eyes of the gods and of men of understanding? also to be soothed, 
and gently and reverently entreated when angry, even more than 
a father, and if not persuaded, obeyed ? And when we are punished 
by her, whether with imprisonment or stripes, the punishment is to 
be endured in silence; and if she leads us to wounds or death in 
battle, thither we follow as is right; neither may anyone yield or 
retreat or leave his rank, but whether in battle or in a court of law, 
or in any other place, he must do what his city and his country order 
him; or he must change their view of what is just: and if he may 
do no violence to his father or mother, much less may he do violence 
to his country." What answer shall we make to this, Crito ? Do the 
laws speak truly, or do they not ? 

Cr. I think that they do. 

Soc. Then the laws will say: "Consider, Socrates, if this is true, 
that in your present attempt you are going to do us wrong. For, 
after having brought you into the world, and nurtured and educated 
you, and given you and every other citizen a share in every good 
that we had to give, we further proclaim and give the right to 
every Athenian, that if he does not like us when he has come of 
age and has seen the ways of the city, and made our acquaintance, 
he may go where he pleases and take his goods with him; and none 
of us laws will forbid him or interfere with him. Any of you who 
does not like us and the city, and who wants to go to a colony or 
to any other city, may go where he likes, and take his goods with 
him. But he who has experience of the manner in which we order 
justice and administer the State, and still remains, has entered into 
an implied contract that he will do as we command him. And he 


who disobeys us is, as we maintain, thrice wrong: first, because in 
disobeying us he is disobeying his parents; secondly, because we are 
the authors of his education; thirdly, because he has made an 
agreement with us that he will duly obey our commands; and he 
neither obeys them nor convinces us that our commands are wrong; 
and we do not rudely impose them, but give him the alternative of 
obeying or convincing us; that is what we offer, and he does neither. 
These are the sort of accusations to which, as we were saying, you, 
Socrates, will be exposed if you accomplish your intentions; you, 
above all other Athenians." Suppose I ask, why is this? they will 
justly retort upon me that I above all other men have acknowledged 
the agreement. "There is clear proof," they will say, "Socrates, that 
we and the city were not displeasing to you. Of all Athenians you 
have been the most constant resident in the city, which, as you never 
leave, you may be supposed to love. For you never went out of the 
city either to see the games, except once when you went to the 
Isthmus, or to any other place unless when you were on military 
service; nor did you travel as other men do. Nor had you any curi- 
osity to know other States or their laws: your affections did not go 
beyond us and our State; we were your especial favorites, and you 
acquiesced in our government of you; and this is the State in which 
you begat your children, which is a proof of your satisfaction. More- 
over, you might, if you had liked, have fixed the penalty at banish- 
ment in the course of the trial — the State which refuses to let you 
go now would have let you go then. But you pretended that you 
preferred death to exile, and that you were not grieved at death. 
And now you have forgotten these fine sentiments, and pay no 
respect to us, the laws, of whom you are the destroyer; and are 
doing what only a miserable slave would do, running away and 
turning your back upon the compacts and agreements which you 
made as a citizen. And first of all answer this very question: Are 
we right in saying that you agreed to be governed according to us 
in deed, and not in word only? Is that true or not?" How shall we 
answer that, Crito? Must we not agree? 

Cr. There is no help, Socrates. 

Soc. Then will they not say: "You, Socrates, are breaking the 
covenants and agreements which you made with us at your leisure, 


not in any haste or under any compulsion or deception, but having 
had seventy years to think of them, during which time you were at 
Uberty to leave the city, if we were not to your mind, or if our 
covenants appeared to you to be unfair. You had your choice, and 
might have gone either to Lacedaemon or Crete, which you often 
praise for their good government, or to some other Hellenic or for- 
eign State. Whereas you, above all other Athenians, seemed to be 
so fond of the State, or, in other words, of us her laws (for who 
would like a State that has no laws?), that you never stirred out 
of her: the halt, the blind, the maimed, were not more stationary in 
her than you were. And now you run away and forsake your 
agreements. Not so, Socrates, if you will take our advice; do not 
make yourself ridiculous by escaping out of the city. 

"For just consider, if you transgress and err in this sort of way, 
what good will you do, either to yourself or to your friends? That 
your friends will be driven into exile and deprived of citizenship, or 
will lose their property, is tolerably certain; and you yourself, if you 
fly to one of the neighboring cities, as, for example, Thebes or 
Megara, both of which are well-governed cities, will come to them 
as an enemy, Socrates, and their government will be against you, 
and all patriotic citizens will cast an evil eye upon you as a sub- 
verter of the laws, and you will confirm in the minds of the judges 
the justice of their own condemnation of you. For he who is a 
corrupter of the laws is more than likely to be corrupter of the 
young and foolish portion of mankind. Will you then flee from 
well-ordered cities and virtuous men? and is existence worth having 
on these terms? Or will you go to them without shame, and talk 
to them, Socrates? And what will you say to them? What you 
say here about virtue and justice and institutions and laws being the 
best things among men? Would that be decent of you? Surely not. 
But if you go away from well-governed States to Crito's friends in 
Thessaly, where there is great disorder and license, they will be 
charmed to have the tale of your escape from prison, set off with 
ludicrous particulars of the manner in which you were wrapped in 
a goatskin or some other disguise, and metamorphosed as the 
fashion of runaways is — that is very likely; but will there be no one 
to remind you that in your old age you violated the most sacred 


laws from a miserable desire of a little more life? Perhaps not, if 
you keep them in a good tempier; but if they are out of temper 
you will hear many degrading things; you will live, but how? — as 
the flatterer of all men, and the servant of all men; and doing 
what? — eating and drinking in Thessaly, having gone abroad in 
order that you may get a dinner. And where will be your fine senti- 
ments about justice and virtue then? Say that you wish to live for 
the sake of your children, that you may bring them up and educate 
them — will you take them into Thessaly and deprive them of 
Athenian citizenship? Is that the benefit which you would confer 
upon them? Or are you under the impression that they will be better 
cared for and educated here if you are still alive, although absent 
from them; for that your friends will take care of them? Do you 
fancy that if you are an inhabitant of Thessaly they will take care 
of them, and if you are an inhabitant of the other world they will 
not take care of them? Nay; but if they who call themselves friends 
are truly friends, they surely will. 

"Listen, then, Socrates, to us who have brought you up. Think 
not of life and children first, and of justice afterwards, but of justice 
first, that you may be justified before the princes of the world below. 
For neither will you nor any that belong to you be happier or holier 
or juster in this life, or happier in another, if you do as Crito bids. 
Now you depart in innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil; 
a victim, not of the laws, but of men. But if you go forth, returning 
evil for evil, and injury for injury, breaking the covenants and 
agreements which you have made with us, and wronging those 
whom you ought least to wrong, that is to say, yourself, your friends, 
your country, and us, we shall be angry with you while you live, 
and our brethren, the laws in the world below, will receive you as 
an enemy; for they will know that you have done your best to 
destroy us. Listen, then, to us and not to Crito." 

This is the voice which I seem to hear murmuring in my ears, like 
the sound of the flute in the ears of the mystic; that voice, I say, is 
humming in my ears, and prevents me from hearing any other. And 
I know that anything more which you will say will be in vain. Yet 
speak, if you have anything to say. 

Cr. I have nothing to say, Socrates. 



Ph.edo, who is the narrator of Apollodorus 

the dialogue to Echecrates Simmias 

of Phlius Cebes 

Socrates Crito 

Attendant of the Prison 

Scene: The Prison of Socrates 

Place of the Narration: Phlius 


WERE you yourself, Phacdo, in the prison with Socrates on 
the day when he drank the poison? 
Phcedo. Yes, Echecrates, I was. 

Ech. I wish that you would tell me about his death. What did he 
say in his last hours? We were informed that he died by taking 
poison, but no one knew anything more; for no Phliasian ever 
goes to Athens now, and a long time has elapsed since any Athenian 
found his way to Phlius, and therefore we had no clear account. 

Plicsd. Did you not hear of the proceedings at the trial? 

Ech. Yes; someone told us about the trial, and we could not 
understand why, having been condemned, he was put to death, as 
appeared, not at the time, but long afterwards. What was the reason 
of this? 

Phced. An accident, Echecrates. The reason was that the stern of 
the ship which the Athenians send to Delos happened to have been 
crowned on the day before he was tried. 

Ech. What is this ship? 

Phted. This is the ship in which, as the Athenians say, Theseus 
went to Crete when he took with him the fourteen youths, and was 
the saviour of them and of himself. And they were said to have 
vowed to Apollo at the time, that if they were saved they would 



make an annual pilgrimage to Delos. Now this custom still con- 
tinues, and the whole period of the voyage to and from Delos, be- 
ginning when the priest of Apollo crowns the stern of the ship, is 
a holy season, during which the city is not allowed to be polluted 
by public executions; and often, when the vessel is detained by 
adverse winds, there may be a very considerable delay. As I was 
saying, the ship was crowned on the day before the trial, and this 
was the reason why Socrates lay in prison and was not put to death 
until long after he was condemned. 

Ech. What was the manner of his death, Phxdo? What was said 
or done? And which of his friends had he with him? Or were 
they not allowed by the authorities to be present? And did he di« 
alone ? 

Phced. No; there were several of his friends with him. 

Ech. If you have nothing to do, I wish that you would tell me 
what passed, as exactly as you can. 

Phced. I have nothing to do, and will try to gratify your wish. 
For to me, too, there is no greater pleasure than to have Socrates 
brought to my recollection, whether I speak myself or hear another 
speak of him. 

Ech. You will have listeners who are of the same mind with you, 
and I hope that you will be as exact as you can. 

Phced. I remember the strange feeling which came over me at 
being with him. For I could hardly believe that I was present at the 
death of a friend, and therefore I did not pity him, Echecrates; his 
mien and his language were so noble and fearless in the hour of 
death that to me he appeared blessed. I thought that in going to the 
Other world he could not be without a divine call, and that he would 
be happy, if any man ever was, when he arrived there, and therefore 
I did not pity him as might seem natural at such a time. But neither 
could I feel the pleasure which I usually felt in philosophical dis- 
course (for philosophy was the theme of which we spoke). I was 
pleased, and I was also pained, because I knew that he was soon to 
die, and this strange mixture of feeling was shared by us all; we 
were laughing and weeping by turns, especially the excitable Apollo- 
dorus — you know the sort of manP 

Ech. Yes. 


Phxd. He was quite overcome; and I myself and all of us were 
greatly moved. 

Ech. Who were present ? 

Pheed. Of native Athenians there were, besides ApoUodorus, 
Critobulus and his father Crito, Hermogenes, Epigenes, iEschines, 
and Antisthenes; likewise Ctesippus of the deme of Pacania, Mene- 
xenus, and some others; but Plato, if I am not mistaken, was ill. 

Ech. Were there any strangers? 

Phced. Yes, there were; Simmias the Theban, and Cebes, and 
Phaedondes; Euclid and Terpison, who came from Megara. 

Ech. And was Aristippus there, and Cleombrotus? 

Phted. No, they were said to be in itgina. 

Ech. Anyone else? 

Phecd. I think that these were about all. 

Ech. And what was the discourse of which you spoke ? 

Phced. I will begin at the beginning, and endeavor to repeat the 
entire conversation. You must understand that we had been previ- 
ously in the habit of assembling early in the morning at the court 
in which the trial was held, and which is not far from the prison. 
There we remained talking with one another until the opening of 
the prison doors (for they were not opened very early), and then 
went in and generally passed the day with Socrates. On the last 
morning the meeting was earlier than usual; this was owing to our 
having heard on the previous evening that the sacred ship had 
arrived from Delos, and therefore we agreed to meet very early at 
the accustomed place. On our going to the prison, the jailer who 
answered the door, instead of admitting us, came out and bade 
us wait and he would call us. "For the Eleven," he said, "are now 
with Socrates; they are taking off his chains, and giving orders that 
he is to die to-day." He soon returned and said that we might come 
in. On entering we found Socrates just released from chains, and 
Xanthippe, whom you know, sitting by him, and holding his child 
in her arms. When she saw us she uttered a cry and said, as women 
will: "O Socrates, this is the last time that either you will converse 
with your friends, or they with you." Socrates turned to Crito and 
said: "Crito, let someone take her home." Some of Crito's people 
accordingly led her away, crying out and beating herself. And 


when she was gone, Socrates, sitting up on the couch, began to bend 
and rub his leg, saying, as he rubbed: "How singular is the thing 
called pleasure, and how curiously related to pain, which might be 
thought to be the opposite of it; for they never come to a man 
together, and yet he who pursues either of them is generally com- 
pelled to take the other. They are two, and yet they grow together 
out of one head or stem; and 1 cannot help thinking that if iEsop 
had noticed them, he would have made a fable about God trying 
to reconcile their strife, and when he could not, he fastened their 
heads together; and this is the reason why when one comes the 
other follows, as I find in my own case pleasure comes following 
after the pain in my leg, which was caused by the chain." 

Upon this Cebes said: I am very glad indeed, Socrates, that you 
mentioned the name of iEsop. For that reminds me of a question 
which has been asked by others, and was asked of me only the day 
before yesterday by Evenus the poet, and as he will be sure to ask 
again, you may as well tell me what I should say to him, if you 
would like him to have an answer. He wanted to know why you 
who never before wrote a line of poetry, now that you are in prison 
are putting yEsop into verse, and also composing that hymn in 
honor of Apollo. 

Tell him, Cebes, he repUed, that I had no idea of rivalling him or 
his poems; which is the truth, for I knew that I could not do that. 
But I wanted to see whether I could purge away a scruple which 
I felt about certain dreams. In the course of my life I have often 
had intimations in dreams "that I should make music." The same 
dream came to me sometimes in one form, and sometimes in an- 
other, but always saying the same or nearly the same words: Make 
and cultivate music, said the dream. And hitherto I had imagined 
that this was only intended to exhort and encourage me in the study 
of philosophy, which has always been the pursuit of my life, and 
is the noblest and best of music. The dream was bidding me to do 
what I was already doing, in the same way that the competitor in 
a race is bidden by the spectators to run when he is already running. 
But I was not certain of this, as the dream might have meant music 
in the popular sense of the word, and being under sentence of 
death, and the festival giving me a respite, I thought that I should 

PH/EDO 49 

be safer if I satisfied the scruple, and, in obedience to the dream, 
composed a few verses before I departed. And first I made a hymn 
in honor of the god of the festival, and then considering that a poet, 
if he is really to be a poet or maker, should not only put words 
together but make stories, and as I have no invention, I took some 
fables of /Esop, which I had ready at hand and knew, and turned 
them into verse. Tell Evenus this, and bid him be of good cheer; 
say that I would have him come after me if he be a wise man, and 
not tarry; and that to-day I am likely to be going, for the Athenians 
say that I must. 

Simmias said: What a message for such a man! having been a 
frequent companion of his, I should say that, as far as I know him, 
he will never take your advice unless he is obliged. 

Why, said Socrates, — is not Evenus a philosopher? 

I think that he is, said Simmias. 

Then he, or any man who has the spirit of philosophy, will be 
willing to die, though he will not take his own life, for that is held 
not to be right. 

Here he changed his position, and put his legs off the couch on 
to the ground, and during the rest of the conversation he remained 

Why do you say, inquired Cebes, that a man ought not to take his 
own life, but that the philosopher will be ready to follow the dying ? 

Socrates replied: And have you, Cebes and Simmias, who are 
acquainted with Philolaus, never heard him speak of this? 

I never understood him, Socrates, 

My words, too, are only an echo; but I am very willing to say 
what I have heard: and indeed, as I am going to another place, I 
ought to be thinking and talking of the nature of the pilgrimage 
which I am about to make. What can I do better in the interval 
between this and the setting of the sun ? 

Then tell me, Socrates, why is suicide held not to be right? as I 
have certainly heard Philolaus affirm when he was staying with us 
at Thebes: and there are others who say the same, although none of 
them has ever made me understand him. 

But do your best, replied Socrates, and the day may come when 
you will understand. I suppose that you wonder why, as most 


things which are evil may be accidentally good, this is to be the 
only exception (for may not death, too, be better than life in some 
cases?), and why, when a man is better dead, he is not permitted 
to be his own benefactor, but must wait for the hand of another. 

By Jupiter! yes, indeed, said Cebes, laughing, and speaking in 
his native Doric. 

I admit the appearance of inconsistency, replied Socrates, but 
there may not be any real inconsistency after all in this. There is a 
doctrine uttered in secret that man is a prisoner who has no right 
to open the door of his prison and run away; this is a great mystery 
which I do not quite understand. Yet I, too, believe that the gods are 
our guardians, and that we are a possession of theirs. Do you 
not agree? 

Yes, I agree to that, said Cebes. 

And if one of your own possessions, an ox or an ass, for example 
took the liberty of putting himself out of the way when you had 
given no intimation of your wish that he should die, would you 
not be angry with him, and would you not punish him if you could? 

Certainly, replied Cebes. 

Then there may be reason in saying that a man should wait, and 
not take his own life until God summons him, as he is now 
summoning me. 

Yes, Socrates, said Cebes, there is surely reason in that. And yet 
how can you reconcile this seemingly true belief that God is our 
guardian and we his possessions, with that willingness to die which 
we were attributing to the philosopher? That the wisest of men 
should be willing to leave this service in which they are ruled by 
the gods who are the best of rulers is not reasonable, for surely no 
wise man thinks that when set at liberty he can take better care 
of himself than the gods take of him. A fool may perhaps think 
this — he may argue that he had better run away from his master, 
not considering that his duty is to remain to the end, and not to 
run away from the good, and that there is no sense in his running 
away. But the wise man will want to be ever with him who is 
better than himself. Now this, Socrates, is the reverse of what was 
just now said; for upon this view the wise man should sorrow and 
the fool rejoice at passing out of life. 

PH^DO 51 

The earnestness of Cebes seemed to please Socrates. Here, said 
he, turning to us, is a man who is always inquiring, and is not to 
be convinced all in a moment, nor by every argument. 

And in this case, added Simmias, his objection does appear to me 
to have some force. For what can be the meaning of a truly wise 
man wanting to fly away and lightly leave a master who is better 
than himself? And I rather imagine that Cebes is referring to you; 
he thinks that you are too ready to leave us, and too ready to leave 
the gods who, as you acknowledge, are our good rulers. 

Yes, replied Socrates; there is reason in that. And this indictment 
you think that I ought to answer as if I were in court? 

That is what we should like, said Simmias. 

Then I must try to make a better impression upon you than I 
did when defending myself before the judges. For I am quite ready 
to acknowledge, Simmias and Cebes, that I ought to be grieved at 
death, if I were not persuaded that I am going to other gods who 
are wise and good (of this I am as certain as I can be of anything 
of the sort) and to men departed (though I am not so certain of 
this), who are better than those whom I leave behind; and there- 
fore I do not grieve as I might have done, for I have good hope 
that there is yet something remaining for the dead, and, as has 
been said of old, some far better thing for the good than for the evil. 

But do you mean to take away your thoughts with you, Socrates? 
said Simmias. Will you not communicate them to us? — the benefit 
is one in which we too may hope to share. Moreover, if you succeed 
in convincing us, that will be an answer to the charge against 

I will do my best, replied Socrates. But you must first let me hear 
what Crito wants; he was going to say something to me. 

Only this, Socrates, replied Crito: the attendant who is to give 
you the poison has been telling me that you are not to talk much, 
and he wants me to let you know this; for that by talking heat is 
increased, and this interferes with the action of the poison; those 
who excite themselves are sometimes obliged to drink the poison 
two or three times. 

Then, said Socrates, let him mind his business and be prepared 
to give the poison two or three times, if necessary; that is all. 


I was almost certain that you would say that, replied Crito; but 
I was obliged to satisfy him. 

Never mind him, he said. 

And now I will make answer to you, O my judges, and show 
that he who has lived as a true philosopher has reason to be of good 
cheer when he is about to die, and that after death he may hope to 
receive the greatest good in the other world. And how this may be, 
Simmias and Cebes, I will endeavor to explain. For I deem that 
the true disciple of philosophy is likely to be misunderstood by other 
men; they do not perceive that he is ever pursuing death and dying; 
and if this is true, why, having had the desire of death all his life 
long, should he repine at the arrival of that which he has been 
always pursuing and desiring ? 

Simmias laughed and said: Though not in a laughing humor, I 
swear that I cannot help laughing when I think what the wicked 
world will say when they hear this. They will say that this is very 
true, and our people at home will agree with them in saying that 
the life which philosophers desire is truly death, and that they have 
found them out to be deserving of the death which they desire. 

And they are right, Simmias, in saying this, with the exception 
of the words "They have found them out"; for they have not found 
out what is the nature of this death which the true philosopher 
desires, or how he deserves or desires death. But let us leave them 
and have a word with ourselves: Do we believe that there is such 
a thing as death? 

To be sure, replied Simmias. 

And is this anything but the separation of soul and body? And 
being dead is the attainment of this separation; when the soul exists 
in herself, and is parted from the body and the body is parted from 
the soul — that is death? 

Exactly: that and nothing else, he replied. 

And what do you say of another question, my friend, about which 
I should like to have your opinion, and the answer to which will 
probably throw light on our present inquiry: Do you think that the 
philosopher ought to care about the pleasures — if they are to be 
called pleasures — of eating and drinking? 

Certainly not, answered Simmias. 

PHiEDO 53 

And what do you say of the pleasures of love — should he care 
about them? 

By no means. 

And will he think much of the other ways of indulging the body — 
for example, the acquisition of costly raiment, or sandals, or other 
adornments of the body ? Instead of caring about them, does he not 
rather despise anything more than nature needs? What do you say? 

I should say the true philosopher would despise them. 

Would you not say that he is entirely concerned with the soul 
and not with the body ? He would like, as far as he can, to be quit 
of the body and turn to the soul. 

That is true. 

In matters of this sort philosophers, above all other men, may be 
observed in every sort of way to dissever the soul from the body. 

That is true. 

Whereas, Simmias, the rest of the world are of opinion that a life 
which has no bodily pleasures and no part in them is not worth 
having; but that he who thinks nothing of bodily pleasures is almost 
as though he were dead. 

That is quite true. 

What again shall we say of the actual acquirement of knowl- 
edge? — is the body, if invited to share in the inquiry, a hinderer or 
a helper? I mean to say, have sight and hearing any truth in them? 
Are they not, as the poets are always telling us, inaccurate witnesses? 
and yet, if even they are inaccurate and indistinct, what is to be said 
of the other senses? — for you will allow that they are the best of 

Certainly, he replied. 

Then when does the soul attain truth? — for in attempting to con- 
sider anything in company with the body she is obviously deceived. 

Yes, that is true. 

Then must not existence be revealed to her in thought, if at all ? 


And thought is best when the mind is gathered into herself and 
none of these things trouble her — neither sounds nor sights nor pain 
nor any pleasure — when she has as little as possible to do with the 
body, and has no bodily sense or feeling, but is aspiring after being? 


That is true. 

And in this the philosopher dishonors the body; his soul runs 
away from the body and desires to be alone and by herself? 

That is true. 

Well, but there is another thing, Simmias: Is there or is there 
not an absolute justice? 

Assuredly there is. 

And an absolute beauty and absolute good? 

Of course. 

But did you ever behold any of them with your eyes? 

Certainly not. 

Or did you ever reach them with any other bodily sense? (and 
I speak not of these alone, but of absolute greatness, and health, and 
strength, and of the essence or true nature of everything) . Has the 
reality of them ever been perceived by you through the bodily organs ? 
or rather, is not the nearest approach to the knowledge of their 
several natures made by him who so orders his intellectual vision as 
to have the most exact conception of the essence of that which he 
considers ? 


And he attains to the knowledge of them in their highest purity 
who goes to each of them with the mind alone, not allowing when 
in the act of thought the intrusion or introduction of sight or any 
other sense in the company of reason, but with the very light of the 
mind in her clearness penetrates into the very light of truth in each; 
he has got rid, as far as he can, of eyes and ears and of the whole 
body, which he conceives of only as a disturbing element, hindering 
the soul from the acquisition of knowledge when in company with 
her — is not this the sort of man who, if ever man did, is likely to 
attain the knowledge of existence? 

There is admirable truth in that, Socrates, replied Simmias. 

And when they consider all this, must not true philosophers make 
a reflection, of which they will sf)eak to one another in such words 
as these: We have found, they will say, a path of speculation which 
seems to bring us and the argument to the conclusion that while 
we are in the body, and while the soul is mingled with this mass of 
evil, our desire will not be satisfied, and our desire is of the truth. 

PH/EDO 55 

For the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason of the 
mere requirement of food; and also is liable to diseases which over- 
take and impede us in the search after truth: and by fiUing us so 
full of loves, and lusts, and fears, and fancies, and idols, and every 
sort of folly, prevents our ever having, as people say, so much as a 
thought. For whence come wars, and fightings, and factions? whence 
but from the body and the lusts of the body? For wars are 
occasioned by the love of money, and money has to be acquired for 
the sake and in the service of the body; and in consequence of all 
these things the time which ought to be given to philosophy is lost. 
Moreover, if there is time and an inclination toward philosophy, 
yet the body introduces a turmoil and confusion and fear into the 
course of speculation, and hinders us from seeing the truth: and all 
experience shows that if we would have pure knowledge of any- 
thing we must be quit of the body, and the soul in herself must 
behold all things in themselves: then I suppose that we shall attain 
that which we desire, and of which we say that we are lovers, and 
that is wisdom, not while we live, but after death, as the argument 
shows; for if while in company with the body the soul cannot have 
pure knowledge, one of two things seems to follow — either knowl- 
edge is not to be attained at all, or, if at all, after death. For then, 
and not till then, the soul will be in herself alone and without the 
body. In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach 
to knowledge when we have the least possible concern or interest 
in the body, and are not saturated with the bodily nature, but remain 
pure until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. 
And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away and we 
shall be pure and hold converse with other pure souls, and know 
of ourselves the clear light everywhere; and this is surely the light 
of truth. For no impure thing is allowed to approach the pure. 
These are the sort of words, Simmias, which the true lovers of 
wisdom cannot help saying to one another, and thinking. You will 
agree with me in that? 

Certainly, Socrates. 

But if this is true, O my friend, then there is great hope that, 
going whither I go, I shall there be satisfied with that which has 
been the chief concern of you and me in our past lives. And now 


that the hour of departure is appointed to me, this is the hope with 
which I depart, and not I only, but every man who beHeves that he 
has his mind purified. 

Certainly, repUed Simmias. 

And what is purification but the separation of the soul from the 
body, as I was saying before; the habit of the soul gathering and 
collecting herself into herself, out of all the courses of the body; 
the dwelling in her own place alone, as in another life, so also in 
this, as far as she can; the release of the soul from the chains of 
the body? 

Very true, he said. 

And what is that which is termed death, but this very separation 
and release of the soul from the body ? 

To be sure, he said. 

And the true philosophers, and they only, study and are eager to 
release the soul. Is not the separation and release of the soul from 
the body their especial study ? 

That is true. 

And as I was saying at first, there would be a ridiculous contra- 
diction in men studying to live as nearly as they can in a state of 
death, and yet repining when death comes. 


Then, Simmias, as the true philosophers are ever studying death, 
to them, of all men, death is the least terrible. Look at the matter 
in this way: how inconsistent of them to have been always enemies 
of the body, and wanting to have the soul alone, and when this is 
granted to them, to be trembling and repining; instead of rejoicing 
at their departing to that place where, when they arrive, they hope to 
gain that which in life they loved (and this was wisdom), and at 
the same time to be rid of the company of their enemy. Many a 
man has been willing to go to the world below in the hope of 
seeing there an earthly love, or wife, or son, and conversing with 
them. And will he who is a true lover of wisdom, and is persuaded 
in like manner that only in the world below he can worthily enjoy 
her, still repine at death? Will he not depart with joy? Surely he 
will, my friend, if he be a true philosopher. For he will have a 

PHiEDO 57 

firm conviction that there only, and nowhere else, he can find 
wisdom in her purity. And if this be true, he would be very absurd, 
as I was saying, if he were to fear death. 

He would, indeed, replied Simmias. 

And when you see a man who is repining at the approach of 
death, is not his reluctance a sufficient proof that he is not a lover 
of wisdom, but a lover of the body, and probably at the same time 
a lover of either money or power, or both? 

That is very true, he replied. 

There is a virtue, Simmias, which is named courage. Is not that 
a special attribute of the philosopher? 


Again, there is temperance. Is not the calm, and control, and 
disdain of the passions which even the many call temperance, a 
quality belonging only to those who despise the body and live in 

That is not to be denied. 

For the courage and temperance of other men, if you will con- 
sider them, are really a contradiction. 

How is that, Socrates? 

Well, he said, you are aware that death is regarded by men in 
general as a great evil. 

That is true, he said. 

And do not courageous men endure death because they are afraid 
of yet greater evils? 

That is true. 

Then all but the philosophers are courageous only from fear, and 
because they are afraid; and yet that a man should be courageous 
from fear, and because he is a coward, is surely a strange thing. 

Very true. 

And are not the temperate exactly in the same case? They are 
temperate because they are intemperate — which may seem to be a 
contradiction, but is nevertheless the sort of thing which happens 
with this foolish temperance. For there are pleasures which they 
must have, and are afraid of losing; and therefore they abstain from 
one class of pleasures because they are overcome by another: and 


whereas intemperance is defined as "being under the dominion of 
pleasure," they overcome only because they are overcome by pleas- 
ure. And that is what I mean by saying that they are temperate 
through intemperance. 

That appears to be true. 

Yet the exchange of one fear or pleasure or pain for another fear 
or pleasure or pain, which are measured like coins, the greater with 
the less, is not the exchange of virtue. O my dear Simmias, is there 
not one true coin for which all things ought to exchange? — and 
that is wisdom; and only in exchange for this, and in company with 
this, is anything truly bought or sold, whether courage or temper- 
ance or justice. And is not all true virtue the companion of wisdom, 
no matter what fears or pleasures or other similar goods or evils 
may or may not attend her? But the virtue which is made up of 
these goods, when they are severed from wisdom and exchanged 
with one another, is a shadow of virtue only, nor is there any free- 
dom or health or truth in her; but in the true exchange there is 
a purging away of all these things, and temperance, and justice, and 
courage, and wisdom herself are a purgation of them. And I con- 
ceive that the founders of the mysteries had a real meaning and 
were not mere triflers when they intimated in a figure long ago 
that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below 
will live in a slough, but that he who arrives there after initiation 
and purification will dwell with the gods. For "many," as they say 
in the mysteries, "are the thyrsus bearers, but few are the mystics," 
— meaning, as I interpret the words, the true philosophers. In the 
number of whom I have been seeking, according to my ability, to 
find a place during my whole life; whether I have sought in a right 
way or not, and whether I have succeeded or not, I shall truly know 
in a little while, if God will, when I myself arrive in the other world: 
that is my beHef. And now, Simmias and Cebes, I have answered 
those who charge me with not grieving or repining at parting from 
you and my masters in this world; and I am right in not repining, 
for I believe that 1 shall find other masters and friends who are 
as good in the world below. But all men cannot believe this, and 
I shall be glad if my words have any more success with you than 
with the judges of the Athenians. 

PHiEDO 59 

Cebes answered: I agree, Socrates, in the greater part of what 
you say. But in what relates to the soul, men are apt to be incredu- 
lous; they fear that when she leaves the body her place may be 
nowhere, and that on the very day of death she may be destroyed 
and perish — immediately on her release from the body, issuing forth 
hke smoke or air and vanishing away into nothingness. For if she 
could only hold together and be herself after she was released from 
the evils of the body, there would be good reason to hope, Socrates, 
that what you say is true. But much persuasion and many arguments 
are required in order to prove that when the man is dead the soul 
yet exists, and has any force of intelligence. 

True, Cebes, said Socrates; and shall I suggest that we talk a 
little of the probabilities of these things? 

I am sure, said Cebes, that I should greatly Uke to know your 
opinion about them. 

I reckon, said Socrates, that no one who heard me now, not 
even if he were one of my old enemies, the comic poets, could 
accuse me of idle talking about matters in which I have no con- 
cern. Let us, then, if you please, proceed with the inquiry. 

Whether the souls of men after death are or are not in the world 
below, is a question which may be argued in this manner: The 
ancient doctrine of which I have been speaking affirms that they 
go from this into the other world, and return hither, and are born 
from the dead. Now if this be true, and the living come from the 
dead, then our souls must be in the other world, for if not, how 
could they be born again? And this would be conclusive, if there 
were any real evidence that the living are only born from the dead; 
but if there is no evidence of this, then other arguments will have 
to be adduced. 

That is very true, replied Cebes. 

Then let us consider this question, not in relation to man only, 
but in relation to animals generally, and to plants, and to every- 
thing of which there is generation, and the proof will be easier. Are 
not all things which have opposites generated out of their opposites? 
I mean such things as good and evil, just and unjust — and there are 
innumerable other oppxjsites which are generated out of opposites. 
And I want to show that this holds universally of all opposites; I 


mean to say, for example, that anything which becomes greater 
must become greater after being less. 


And that which becomes less must have been once greater and 
then become less. 


And the weaker is generated from the stronger, and the swifter 
from the slower. 

Very true. 

And the worse is from the better, and the more just is from the 
more unjust. 

Of course. 

And is this true of all opposites.' and are we convinced that all 
of them are generated out of opposites? 


And in this universal opposition of all things, are there not also 
two intermediate processes which are ever going on, from one to the 
other, and back again; where there is a greater and a less there is 
also an intermediate process of increase and diminution, and that 
which grows is said to wax, and that which decays to wane? 

Yes, he said. 

And there are many other processes, such as division and compo- 
sition, cooling and heating, which equally involve a passage into 
and out of one another. And this holds of all opposites, even though 
not always expressed in words — they are generated out of one an- 
other, and there is a passing or process from one to the other of 

Very true, he replied. 

Well, and is there not an opposite of life, as sleep is the opposite 
of waking.'' 

True, he said. 

And what is that? 

Death, he answered. 

And these, then, are generated, if they are opposites, the one from 
the other, and have there their two intermediate processes also ? 

Of course. 

Now, said Socrates, I will analyze one of the two pairs of opposites 

PHiEDO 6l 

which I have mentioned to you, and also its intermediate processes, 
and you shall analyze the other to me. The state of sleep is opposed 
to the state of waking, and out of sleeping waking is generated, and 
out of waking, sleeping, and the process of generation is in the one 
case falling asleep, and in the other waking up. Are you agreed 
about that? 

Quite agreed. 

Then suppose that you analyze life and death to me in the same 
manner. Is not death opposed to life ? 


And they are generated one from the other? 


What is generated from life? 


And what from death ? 

I can only say in answer — life. 

Then the living, whether things or persons, Cebes, are generated 
from the dead? 

That is clear, he replied. 

Then the inference is, that our souls are in the world below? 

That is true. 

And one of the two processes or generations is visible — for surely 
the act of dying is visible? 

Surely, he said. 

And may not the other be inferred as the complement of nature, 
who is not to be supposed to go on one leg only? And if not, a 
corresponding process of generation in death must also be assigned 
to her? 

Certainly, he replied. 

And what is that process? 


And revival, if there be such a thing, is the birth of the dead into 
the world of the living ? 

Quite true. 

Then there is a new way in which we arrive at the inference that 
the living come from the dead, just as the dead come from the living; 
and if this is true, then the souls of the dead must be in some place 


out o£ which they come again. And this, as I think, has been satis- 
factorily proved. 

Yes, Socrates, he said; all this seems to flow necessarily out of our 
previous admissions. 

And that these admissions are not unfair, Cebes, he said, may 
be shown, as I think, in this way: If generation were in a straight 
line only, and there were no compensation or circle in nature, no 
turn or return into one another, then you know that all things 
would at last have the same form and pass into the same state, and 
there would be no more generation of them. 

What do you mean? he said. 

A simple thing enough, which I will illustrate by the case of 
sleep, he replied. You know that if there were no compensation of 
sleeping and waking, the story of the sleeping Endymion would in 
the end have no meaning, because all other things would be asleep, 
too, and he would not be thought of. Or if there were composition 
only, and no division of substances, then the chaos of Anaxagoras 
would come again. And in like manner, my dear Cebes, if all things 
which partook of life were to die, and after they were dead remained 
in the form of death, and did not come to life again, all would at 
last die, and nothing would be alive — how could this be otherwise? 
For if the living spring from any others who are not the dead, and 
they die, must not all things at last be swallowed up in death? 

There is no escape from that, Socrates, said Cebes; and I think 
that what you say is entirely true. 

Yes, he said, Cebes, I entirely think so, too; and we are not 
walking in a vain imagination; but I am confident in the belief 
that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living 
spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence, 
and that the good souls have a better portion than the evil. 

Cebes added: Your favorite doctrine, Socrates, that knowledge is 
simply recollection, if true, also necessarily implies a previous time 
in which we learned that which we now recollect. But this would be 
impossible unless our soul was in some place before existing in 
the human form; here, then, is another argument of the soul's 

But tell me, Cebes, said Simmias, interposing, what proofs are 

phyEdo 63 

given of this doctrine of recollection? I am not very sure at this 
moment that I remember them. 

One excellent proof, said Cebes, is afforded by questions. If you 
put a question to a person in a right way, he will give a true answer 
of himself; but how could he do this unless there were knowledge 
and right reason already in him? And this is most clearly shown 
when he is taken to a diagram or to anything of that sort. 

But if, said Socrates, you are still incredulous, Simmias, I would 
ask you whether you may not agree with me when you look at the 
matter in another way; I mean, if you are still incredulous as to 
whether knowledge is recollection. 

Incredulous, I am not, said Simmias; but I want to have this 
doctrine of recollection brought to my own recollection, and, from 
what Cebes has said, I am beginning to recollect and be convinced; 
but I should still Uke to hear what more you have to say. 

This is what I would say, he replied: We should agree, if I am 
not mistaken, that what a man recollects he must have known at 
some previous time. 

Very true. 

And what is the nature of this recollection? And, in asking this, 
I mean to ask whether, when a person has already seen or heard 
or in any way perceived anything, and he knows not only that, but 
something else of which he has not the same, but another knowl- 
edge, we may not fairly say that he recollects that which comes 
into his mind. Are we agreed about that? 

What do you mean? 

I mean what I may illustrate by the following instance: The 
knowledge of a lyre is not the same as the knowledge of a man? 


And yet what is the feeling of lovers when they recognize a 
lyre, or a garment, or anything else which the beloved has been 
in the habit of using? Do not they, from knowing the lyre, form 
in the mind's eye an image of the youth to whom the lyre belongs? 
And this is recollection: and in the same way anyone who sees 
Simmias may remember Cebes; and there are endless other things 
of the same nature. 

Yes, indeed, there are — endless, replied Simmias. 


And this sort of thing, he said, is recollection, and is most com- 
monly a process of recovering that which has been forgotten through 
time and inattention. 

Very true, he said. 

Well; and may you not also from seeing the picture of a horse 
or a lyre remember a man? and from the picture of Simmias, you 
may be led to remember Cebes? 


Or you may also be led to the recollection of Simmias himself? 

True, he said. 

And in all these cases, the recollection may be derived from things 
either like or unlike? 

That is true. 

And when the recollection is derived from like things, then there 
is sure to be another question, which is, whether the Ukeness of 
that which is recollected is in any way defective or not. 

Very true, he said. 

And shall we proceed a step further, and affirm that there is such 
a thing as equality, not of wood with wood, or of stone with stone, 
but that, over and above this, there is equality in the abstract ? Shall 
we affirm this? 

Affirm, yes, and swear to it, replied Simmias, with all the con- 
fidence in life. 

And do we know the nature of this abstract essence? 

To be sure, he said. 

And whence did we obtain this knowledge? Did we not see 
equalities of material things, such as pieces of wood and stones, and 
gather from them the idea of an equality which is different from 
them? — you will admit that? Or look at the matter again in this 
way: Do not the same pieces of wood or stone appear at one time 
equal, and at another time unequal? 

That is certain. 

But are real equals ever unequal? or is the idea of equality ever 
inequality ? 

That surely was never yet known, Socrates. 

Then these (so<alled) equals are not the same with the idea 
of equality? 

I should say, clearly not, Socrates. 

PHiEDO 65 

And yet from these equals, although differing from the idea of 
equality, you conceived and attained that idea? 

Very true, he said. 

Which might be like, or might be unlike them ? 


But that makes no difference; whenever from seeing one thing 
you conceived another, whether like or unlike, there must surely 
have been an act of recollection? 

Very true. 

But what would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or 
other material equals? and what is the impression produced by 
them? Are they equals in the same sense as absolute equaUty? or 
do they fall short of this in a measure? 

Yes, he said, in a very great measure, too. 

And must we not allow that when I or anyone look at any object, 
and perceive that the object aims at being some other thing, but falls 
short of, and cannot attain to it — he who makes this observation 
must have had previous knowledge of that to which, as he says, the 
other, although similar, was inferior? 


And has not this been our case in the matter of equals and of 
absolute equality? 


Then we must have known absolute equality previously to the 
time when we first saw the material equals, and reflected that all 
these apparent equals aim at this absolute equality, but fall short 
of it? 

That is true. 

And we recognize also that this absolute equality has only been 
known, and can only be known, through the medium of sight or 
touch, or of some other sense. And this I would affirm of all such 

Yes, Socrates, as far as the argument is concerned, one of them 
is the same as the other. 

And from the senses, then, is derived the knowledge that all sen- 
sible things aim at an idea of equality of which they fall short — is 
not that true ? 



Then before we began to see or hear or perceive in any way, 
we must have had a knowledge of absolute equahty, or we could not 
have referred to that the equals which are derived from the senses 
—for to that they all aspire, and of that they fall short ? 

That, Socrates, is certainly to be inferred from the previous state- 

And did we not see and hear and acquire our other senses as soon 
as we were born? 


Then we must have acquired the knowledge of the ideal equal 
at some time previous to this? 


That is to say, before we were born, I suppose? 


And if we acquired this knowledge before we were born, and 
were born having it, then we also knew before we were born and 
at the instant of birth not only equal or the greater or the less, but 
all other ideas; for we are not speaking only of equality absolute, 
but of beauty, goodness, justice, holiness, and all which we stamp 
with the name of essence in the dialectical process, when we ask 
and answer questions. Of all this we may certainly affirm that we 
acquired the knowledge before birth? 

That is true. 

But if, after having acquired, we have not forgotten that which 
we acquired, then we must always have been born with knowledge, 
and shall always continue to know as long as life lasts — for knowing 
is the acquiring and retaining knowledge and not forgetting. Is 
not forgetting, Simmias, just the losing of knowledge? 

Quite true, Socrates. 

But if the knowledge which we acquired before birth was lost 
by us at birth, and afterwards by the use of the senses we recovered 
that which we previously knew, will not that which we call learn- 
ing be a process of recovering our knowledge, and may not this be 
rightly termed recollection by us? 

Very true. 

For this is clear, that when we perceived something, either by 
the help of sight or hearing, or some other sense, there was no difiS- 

PH^DO 67 

culty in receiving from this a conception of some other thing hke or 
unlike which had been forgotten and which was associated with 
this; and therefore, as I was saying, one of two alternatives follows: 
either we had this knowledge at birth, and continued to know 
through life; or, after birth, those who are said to learn only remem- 
ber, and learning is recollection only. 

Yes, that is quite true, Socrates. 

And which alternative, Simmias, do you prefer? Had we the 
knowledge at our birth, or did we remember afterwards the things 
which we knew previously to our birth.'' 

I cannot decide at the moment. 

At any rate you can decide whether he who has knowledge ought 
or ought not to be able to give a reason for what he knows. 

Certainly, he ought. 

But do you think that every man is able to give a reason about 
these very matters of which we are speaking.? 

I wish that they could, Socrates, but I greatly fear that to-morrow 
at this time there will be no one able to give a reason worth 

Then you are not of opinion, Simmias, that all men know these 
things ? 

Certainly not. 

Then they are in process of recollecting that which they learned 


But when did our souls acquire this knowledge? — not since we 
were born as men ? 

Certainly not. 

And therefore previously? 


Then, Simmias, our souls must have existed before they were in 
the form of man — without bodies, and must have had intelligence. 

Unless indeed you suppose, Socrates, that these notions were given 
us at the moment of birth; for this is the only time that remains. 

Yes, my friend, but when did we lose them? for they are not 
in us when we are born — that is admitted. Did we lose them at the 
moment of receiving them, or at some other time? 


No, Socrates, I perceive that I was unconsciously talking nonsense. 

Then may we not say, Simmias, that if, as we are always repeat- 
ing, there is an absolute beauty, and goodness, and essence in gen- 
eral, and to this, which is now discovered to be a previous condition 
of our being, we refer all our sensations, and with this compare 
them — assuming this to have a prior existence, then our souls must 
have had a prior existence, but if not, there would be no force in 
the argument? There can be no doubt that if these absolute ideas 
existed before we were born, then our souls must have existed before 
we were born, and if not the ideas, then not the souls. 

Yes, Socrates; I am convinced that there is precisely the same 
necessity for the existence of the soul before birth, and of the essence 
of which you are speaking: and the argument arrives at a result 
which happily agrees with my own notion. For there is nothing 
which to my mind is so evident as that beauty, goodness, and other 
notions of which you were just now speaking have a most real and 
absolute existence; and I am satisfied with the proof. 

Well, but is Cebes equally satisfied? for I must convince him 

I think, said Simmias, that Cebes is satisfied: although he is the 
most incredulous of mortals, yet I believe that he is convinced of the 
existence of the soul before birth. But that after death the soul will 
continue to exist is not yet proven even to my own satisfaction. 
I cannot get rid of the feeling of the many to which Cebes was re- 
ferring — the feeling that when the man dies the soul may be scat- 
tered, and that this may be the end of her. For admitting that she 
may be generated and created in some other place, and may have 
existed before entering the human body, why after having entered in 
and gone out again may she not herself be destroyed and come to 
an end ? 

Very true, Simmias, said Cebes; that our soul existed before we 
were born was the first half of the argument, and this appears to 
have been proven; that the soul will exist after death as well as before 
birth is the other half of which the proof is still wanting, and has to 
be supplied. 

But that proof, Simmias and Cebes, has been already given, said 
Socrates, if you put the two arguments together — I mean this and 

PHiEDO 69 

the former one, in which we admitted that everything living is 
born of the dead. For if the soul existed before birth, and in coming 
to life and being born can be born only from death and dying, must 
she not after death continue to exist, since she has to be born again? 
surely the proof which you desire has been already furnished. Still 
I suspect that you and Simmias would be glad to probe the argument 
further; like children, you are haunted with a fear that when the 
soul leaves the body, the wind may really blow her away and scatter 
her; especially if a man should happen to die in stormy weather and 
not when the sky is calm. 

Cebes answered with a smile: Then, Socrates, you must argue 
us out of our fears — and yet, strictly speaking, they are not our fears, 
but there is a child within us to whom death is a sort of hobgobUn; 
him too we must persuade not to be afraid when he is alone with him 
in the dark. 

Socrates said : Let the voice of the charmer be applied daily until 
you have charmed him away. 

And where shall we find a good charmer of our fears, Socrates, 
when you are gone.? 

Hellas, he replied, is a large place, Cebes, and has many good 
men, and there are barbarous races not a few: seek for him among 
them all, far and wide, sparing neither pains nor money; for there 
is no better way of using your money. And you must not forget to 
seek for him among yourselves too; for he is nowhere more likely to 
be found. 

The search, replied Cebes, shall certainly be made. And now, if 
you please, let us return to the point of the argument at which we 

By all means, replied Socrates; what else should I please.? 

Very good, he said. 

Must we not, said Socrates, ask ourselves some question of this 
sort? — What is that which, as we imagine, is liable to be scattered 
away, and about which we fear? and what again is that about which 
we have no fear? And then we may proceed to inquire whether 
that which suffers dispersion is or is not of the nature of soul — our 
hopes and fears as to our own souls will turn upon that. 

That is true, he said. 


Now the compound or composite may be supposed to be naturally 
capable of being dissolved in like manner as of being compounded; 
but that which is uncompounded, and that only, must be, if any- 
thing is, indissoluble. 

Yes; that is what I should imagine, said Cebes. 

And the uncompounded may be assumed to be the same and 
unchanging, where the compound is always changing and never the 

That I also think, he said. 

Then now let us return to the previous discussion. Is that idea 
or essence, which in the dialectical process we define as essence of 
true existence — whether essence of equality, beauty, or anything 
else: are these essences, I say, liable at times to some degree of 
change? or are they each of them always what they are, having the 
same simple, self-existent and unchanging forms, and not admitting 
of variation at all, or in any way, or at any time? 

They must be always the same, Socrates, replied Cebes. 

And what would you say of the many beautiful — whether men 
or horses or garments or any other things which may be called 
equal or beautiful — are they all unchanging and the same always, 
or quite the reverse? May they not rather be described as almost 
always changing and hardly ever the same either with themselves 
or with one another ? 

The latter, replied Cebes; they are always in a state of change. 

And these you can touch and see and perceive with the senses, 
but the unchanging things you can only perceive with the mind — 
they are invisible and are not seen? 

That is very true, he said. 

Well, then, he added, let us suppose that there are two sorts of 
existences, one seen, the other unseen. 

Let us suppxDse them. 

The seen is the changing, and the unseen is the unchanging. 

That may be also supposed. 

And, further, is not one part of us body, and the rest of us soul? 

To be sure. 

And to which class may we say that the body is more alike and 
akin ? 

PHiEDO 71 

Clearly to the seen : no one can doubt that. 

And is the soul seen or not seen? 

Not by man, Socrates. 

And by "seen" and "not seen" is meant by us that which is or 
is not visible to the eye of man ? 

Yes, to the eye of man. 

And what do we say of the soul ? is that seen or not seen ? 

Not seen. 

Unseen then? 


Then the soul is more like to the unseen, and the body to the seen ? 

That is most certain, Socrates. 

And were we not saying long ago that the soul when using the 
body as an instrument of perception, that is to say, when using the 
sense of sight or hearing or some other sense (for the meaning of 
perceiving through the body is perceiving through the senses) — 
were we not saying that the soul too is then dragged by the body into 
the region of the changeable, and wanders and is confused; the 
world spins round her, and she is like a drunkard when under 
their influence."* 

Very true. 

But when returning into herself she reflects; then she passes into 
the realm of purity, and eternity, and immortaUty, and unchange- 
ableness, which are her kindred, and with them she ever lives, when 
she is by herself and is not let or hindered; then she ceases from her 
erring ways, and being in communion with the unchanging is 
unchanging. And this state of the soul is called wisdom? 

That is well and truly said, Socrates, he replied. 

And to which class is the soul more nearly alike and akin, as far 
as may be inferred from this argument, as well as from the pre- 
ceding one ? 

I think, Socrates, that, in the opinion of everyone who follows 
the argument, the soul will be infinitely more like the unchangeable 
— even the most stupid person will not deny that. 

And the body is more like the changing? 


Yet once more consider the matter in this light: When the soul 


and the body are united, then nature orders the soul to rule and 
govern, and the body to obey and serve. 

Now which of these two functions is akin to the divine? and 
which to the mortal ? Does not the divine appear to you to be that 
which naturally orders and rules, and the mortal that which is 
subject and servant? 


And which does the soul resemble? 

The soul resembles the divine and the body the mortal — there 
can be no doubt of that, Socrates. 

Then reflect, Cebes: is not the conclusion of the whole matter this? 
— that the soul is in the very likeness of the divine, and immortal, 
and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and unchangeable; 
and the body is in the very likeness of the human, and mortal, and 
unintelligible, and multiform, and dissoluble, and changeable. Can 
this, my dear Cebes, be denied ? 

No, indeed. 

But if this is true, then is not the body liable to speedy dissolution? 
and is not the soul almost or altogether indissoluble? 


And do you further observe, that after a man is dead, the body, 
which is the visible part of man, and has a visible framework, which 
is called a corpse, and which would naturally be dissolved and de- 
composed and dissipated, is not dissolved or decomposed at once, 
but may remain for a good while, if the constitution be sound at 
the time of death, and the season of the year favorable? For the 
body when shrunk and embalmed, as is the custom in Egypt, may 
remain almost entire through infinite ages; and even in decay, still 
there are some portions, such as the bones and ligaments, which are 
practically indestructible. You allow that? 


And are we to suppose that the soul, which is invisible, in passing 
to the true Hades, which like her is invisible, and pure, and noble, 
and on her way to the good and wise God, whither, if God will, my 
soul is also soon to go — that the soul, I repeat, if this be her nature 
and origin, is blown away and perishes immediately on quitting 
the body as the many say? That can never be, dear Simmias and 

PHi£DO 73 

Cebes. The truth rather is that the soul which is pure at departing 
draws after her no bodily taint, having never voluntarily had con- 
nection with the body, which she is ever avoiding, herself gathered 
into herself (for such abstraction has been the study of her life). 
And what does this mean but that she has been a true disciple of 
philosophy and has practised how to die easily? And is not philoso- 
phy the practice of death? 


That soul, I say, herself invisible, departs to the invisible world — 
to the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she lives 
in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears 
and wild passions and all other human ills, and forever dwells, as 
they say of the initiated, in company with the gods. Is not this 
true, Cebes? 

Yes, said Cebes, beyond a doubt. 

But the soul which has been polluted, and is impure at the time 
of her departure, and is the companion and servant of the body 
always, and is in love with and fascinated by the body and by the 
desires and pleasures of the body, until she is led to believe that the 
truth only exists in a bodily form, which a man may touch and see 
and taste and use for the purposes of his lusts — the soul, I mean, 
accustomed to hate and fear and avoid the intellectual principle, 
which to the bodily eye is dark and invisible, and can be attained 
only by philosophy — do you suppose that such a soul as this will 
depart pure and unalloyed ? 

That is impossible, he replied. 

She is engrossed by the corporeal, which the continual association 
and constant care of the body have made natural to her. 

Very true. 

And this, my friend, may be conceived to be that heavy, weighty, 
earthy element of sight by which such a soul is depressed and 
dragged down again into the visible world, because she is afraid 
of the invisible and of the world below — prowling about tombs and 
sepulchres, in the neighborhood of which, as they tell us, are seen 
certain ghostly apparitions of souls which have not departed pure, 
but are cloyed with sight and therefore visible. 

That is very likely, Socrates. 


Yes, that is very likely, Cebes; and these must be the souls, not of 
the good, but of the evil, who are compelled to wander about such 
places in payment of the penalty of their former evil way of life; 
and they continue to wander until the desire which haunts them is 
satisfied and they are imprisoned in another body. And they may 
be supposed to be fixed in the same natures which they had in their 
former life. 

What natures do you mean, Socrates? 

I mean to say that men who have followed after gluttony, and 
wantonness, and drunkenness, and have had no thought of avoiding 
them, would pass into asses and animals of that sort. What do you 
think ? 

I think that exceedingly probable. 

And those who have chosen the portion of injustice, and tyranny, 
and violence, will pass into wolves, or into hawks and kites; whither 
else can we suppose them to go ? 

Yes, said Cebes; that is doubtless the place of natures such as theirs. 

And there is no difficulty, he said, in assigning to all of them 
places answering to their several natures and propensities? 

There is not, he said. 

Even among them some are happier than others; and the happiest 
both in themselves and their place of abode are those who have 
practised the civil and social virtues which are called temperance 
and justice, and are acquired by habit and attention without philos- 
ophy and mind. 

Why are they the happiest? 

Because they may be expected to pass into some gentle, social 
nature which is like their own, such as that of bees or ants, or even 
back again into the form of man, and just and moderate men spring 
from them. 

That is not impossible. 

But he who is a philosopher or lover of learning, and is entirely 
pure at departing, is alone permitted to reach the gods. And this 
is the reason, Simmias and Cebes, why the true votaries of philosophy 
abstain from all fleshly lusts, and endure and refuse to give them- 
selves up to them — not because they fear poverty or the ruin of their 
families, like the lovers of money, and the world in general; nor like 

PH^DO 75 

the lovers of power and honor, because they dread the dishonor or 
disgrace of evil deeds. 

No, Socrates, that would not become them, said Cebes. 

No, indeed, he replied; and therefore they who have a care of 
their souls, and do not merely live in the fashions of the body, say 
farewell to all this; they will not walk in the ways of the blind: 
and when philosophy offers them purification and release from 
evil, they feel that they ought not to resist her influence, and to her 
they incline, and whither she leads they follow her. 

What do you mean, Socrates? 

I will tell you, he said. The lovers of knowledge are conscious 
that their souls, when philosophy receives them, are simply fastened 
and glued to their bodies: the soul is only able to view existence 
through the bars of a prison, and not in her own nature; she is 
wallowing in the mire of all ignorance; and philosophy, seeing the 
terrible nature of her confinement, and that the captive through 
desire is led to conspire in her own captivity (for the lovers of knowl- 
edge are aware that this was the original state of the soul, and that 
when she was in this state philosophy received and gently counseled 
her, and wanted to release her, pointing out to her that the eye is 
full of deceit, and also the ear and other senses, and persuading her 
to retire from them in all but the necessary use of them and to be 
gathered up and collected into herself, and to trust only to herself 
and her own intuitions of absolute existence, and mistrust that which 
comes to her through others and is subject to vicissitude) — philos- 
ophy shows her that this is visible and tangible, but that what she 
sees in her own nature is intellectual and invisible. And the soul of 
the true philosopher thinks that she ought not to resist this deUver- 
ance, and therefore abstains from pleasures and desires and pains 
and fears, as far as she is able; reflecting that when a man has great 
joys or sorrows or fears or desires he suffers from them, not the sort 
of evil which might be anticipated — as, for example, the loss of his 
health or property, which he has sacrificed to his lusts — but he has 
suffered an evil greater far, which is the greatest and worst of all 
evils, and one of which he never thinks. 

And what is that, Socrates ? said Cebes. 

Why, this: When the feehng of pleasure or pain in the soul is 


most intense, all of us naturally suppose that the object of this 
intense feeling is then plainest and truest: but this is not the case. 

Very true. 

And this is the state in which the soul is most enthralled by the 

How is that ? 

Why, because each pleasure and pain is a sort of nail which nails 
and rivets the soul to the body, and engrosses her and makes her 
believe that to be true which the body affirms to be true; and from 
agreeing with the body and having the same delights she is obliged 
to have the same habits and ways, and is not likely ever to be pure 
at her departure to the world below, but is always saturated with 
the body; so that she soon sinks into another body and there germi- 
nates and grows, and has therefore no part in the communion of the 
divine and pure and simple. 

That is most true, Socrates, answered Cebes. 

And this, Cebes, is the reason why the true lovers of knowledge 
are temperate and brave; and not for the reason which the world 

Certainly not. 

Certainly not! For not in that way does the soul of a philosopher 
reason; she will not ask philosophy to release her in order that when 
released she may deliver herself up again to the thraldom of pleasures 
and pains, doing a work only to be undone again, weaving instead 
of unweaving her Penelope's web. But she will make herself a calm 
of passion and follow Reason, and dwell in her, beholding the true 
and divine (which is not matter of opinion), and thence derive 
nourishment. Thus she seeks to live while she lives, and after death 
she hopes to go to her own kindred and to be freed from human 
ills. Never fear, Simmias and Cebes, that a soul which has been thus 
nurtured and has had these pursuits, will at her departure from the 
body be scattered and blown away by the winds and be nowhere 
and nothing. 

When Socrates had done speaking, for a considerable time there 
was silence; he himself and most of us appeared to be meditating 
on what had been said; only Cebes and Simmias spoke a few words 
to one another. And Socrates observing this asked them what they 

PH^DO 77 

thought of the argument, and whether there was anything wanting? 
For, said he, much is still open to suspicion and attack, if anyone were 
disposed to sift the matter thoroughly. If you are talking of some- 
thing else I would rather not interrupt you, but if you are still doubt- 
ful about the argument do not hesitate to say exactly what you 
think, and let us have anything better which you can suggest; and 
if I am likely to be of any use, allow me to help you. 

Simmias said: I must confess, Socrates, that doubts did arise in 
our minds, and each of us was urging and inciting the other to 
put the question which he wanted to have answered and which 
neither of us liked to ask, fearing that our importunity might be 
troublesome under present circumstances. 

Socrates smiled and said: O Simmias, how strange that is; I am not 
very likely to persuade other men that I do not regard my present 
situation as a misfortune, if I am unable to f>ersuade you, and you 
will keep fancying that I am at all more troubled now than at any 
other time. Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of 
prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when they f)erceive that 
they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more 
than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are about to go away 
to the god whose ministers they are. But men, because they are them- 
selves afraid of death, slanderously affirm of the swans that they 
sing a lament at the last, not considering that no bird sings when 
cold, or hungry, or in pain, not even the nightingale, nor the swallow, 
nor yet the hoopxje; which are said indeed to tune a lay of sorrow, 
although I do not believe this to be true of them any more than of 
the swans. But because they are sacred to Apollo and have the gift 
of prophecy and anticipate the good things of another world, there- 
fore they sing and rejoice in that day more than they ever did before. 
And I, too, believing myself to be the consecrated servant of the 
same God, and the fellow servant of the swans, and thinking that I 
have received from my master gifts of prophecy which are not in- 
ferior to theirs, would not go out of life less merrily than the swans. 
Cease to mind then about this, but speak and ask anything which 
you like, while the eleven magistrates of Athens allow. 

Well, Socrates, said Simmias, then I will tell you my difficulty, 
and Cebes will tell you his. For I dare say that you, Socrates, feel, 


as I do, how very hard or almost impossible is the attainment of 
any certainty about questions such as these in the present life. And 
yet I should deem him a coward who did not prove what is said 
about them to the uttermost, or whose heart failed him before he 
had examined them on every side. For he should jiersevere until he 
has attained one of two things: either he should discover or learn the 
truth about them; or, if this is impossible, I would have him take the 
best and most irrefragable of human notions, and let this be the raft 
upon which he sails through life — not without risk, as I admit, if 
he cannot find some word of God which will more surely and safely 
carry him. And now, as you bid me, I will venture to question you, 
as I should not like to reproach myself hereafter with not having 
said at the time what I think. For when I consider the matter either 
alone or with Cebes, the argument does certainly appear to me, 
Socrates, to be not sufficient. 

Socrates answered: I dare say, my friend, that you may be right, 
but I should like to know in what respect the argument is not suffi- 

In this respect, replied Simmias: Might not a person use the same 
argument about harmony and the lyre — might he not say that har- 
mony is a thing invisible, incorporeal, fair, divine, abiding in the lyre 
which is harmonized, but that the lyre and the strings are matter 
and material, composite, earthy, and akin to mortality? And when 
someone breaks the lyre, or cuts and rends the strings, then he who 
takes this view would argue as you do, and on the same analogy, 
that the harmony survives and has not perished; for you cannot 
imagine, as we would say, that the lyre without the strings, and 
the broken strings themselves, remain, and yet that the harmony, 
which is of heavenly and immortal nature and kindred, has perished 
— ^and {jerished too before the mortal. The harmony, he would say, 
certainly exists somewhere, and the wood and strings will decay 
before that decays. For I susf)ect, Socrates, that the notion of the 
soul which we are all of us inclined to entertain, would also be yours, 
and that you too would conceive the body to be strung up, and held 
together, by the elements of hot and cold, wet and dry, and the like, 
and that the soul is the harmony or due proportionate admixture of 
them. And, if this is true, the inference clearly is that when the 

PH.£DO 79 

Strings of the body are unduly loosened or overstrained through 
disorder or other injury, then the soul, though most divine, like 
other harmonies of music or of the works of art, of course parishes 
at once, although the material remains of the body may last for a con- 
siderable time, until they are either decayed or burnt. Now if any- 
one maintained that the soul, being the harmony of the elements of 
the body, first perishes in that which is called death, how shall we 
answer him? 

Socrates looked round at us as his manner was, and said, with 
a smile: Simmias has reason on his side; and why does not some 
one of you who is abler than myself answer him? for there is force 
in his attack upon me. But perhaps, before we answer him, we had 
better also hear what Cebes has to say against the argument — this 
will give us time for reflection, and when both of them have spoken, 
we may either assent to them if their words appear to be in con- 
sonance with the truth, or if not, we may take up the other side, and 
argue with them. Please to tell me then, Cebes, he said, what was the 
difficulty which troubled you? 

Cebes said: I will tell you. My feeling is that the argument is still 
in the same position, and open to the same objections which were 
urged before; for I am ready to admit that the existence of the soul 
before entering into the bodily form has been very ingeniously, and, 
as I may be allowed to say, quite sufficiently proven; but the existence 
of the soul after death is still, in my judgment, unproven. Now 
my objection is not the same as that of Simmias; for I am not dis- 
posed to deny that the soul is stronger and more lasting than the 
body, being of opinion that in all such respects the soul very far 
excels the body. Well, then, says the argument to me, why do you 
remain unconvinced? When you see that the weaker is still in ex- 
istence after the man is dead, will you not admit that the more 
lasting must also survive during the same p)eriod of time? Now I, 
like Simmias, must employ a figure; and I shall ask you to consider 
whether the figure is to the point. The parallel which I will supfxjse 
is that of an old weaver, who dies, and after his death somebody 
says: He is not dead, he must be alive; and he appeals to the coat 
which he himself wove and wore, and which is still whole and un- 
decayed. And then he proceeds to ask of someone who is incredu- 


lous, whether a man lasts longer, or the coat which is in use and 
wear; and when he is answered that a man lasts far longer, thinks 
that he has thus certainly demonstrated the survival of the man, who 
is the more lasting, because the less lasting remains. But that, 
Simmias, as I would beg you to observe, is not the truth; everyone 
sees that he who talks thus is talking nonsense. For the truth is that 
this weaver, having worn and woven many such coats, though he 
outlived several of them, was himself outUved by the last; but this is 
surely very far from proving that a man is slighter and weaker than 
a coat. Now the relation of the body to the soul may be expressed 
in a similar figure; for you may say with reason that the soul is last- 
ing, and the body weak and short-lived in comparison. And every 
soul may be said to wear out many bodies, especially in the course 
of a long life. For if while the man is alive the body deliquesces and 
decays, and yet the soul always weaves her garment anew and re- 
pairs the waste, then of course, when the soul perishes, she must 
have on her last garment, and this only will survive her; but then 
again when the soul is dead the body will at last show its native 
weakness, and soon pass into decay. And therefore this is an ar- 
gument on which I would rather not rely as proving that the soul 
exists after death. For suppose that we grant even more than you 
affirm as within the range of possibility, and besides acknowledging 
that the soul existed before birth admit also that after death the 
souls of some are existing still, and will exist, and will be born and 
die again and again, and that there is a natural strength in the soul 
which will hold out and be born many times — for all this, we may 
be still inclined to think that she will weary in the labors of succes- 
sive births, and may at last succumb in one of her deaths and utterly 
perish; and this death and dissolution of the body which brings de- 
struction to the soul may be unknown to any of us, for no one of 
us can have had any experience of it: and if this be true, then I say 
that he who is confident in death has but a foolish confidence, unless 
he is able to prove that the soul is altogether immortal and imperish- 
able. But if he is not able to prove this, he who is about to die will 
always have reason to fear that when the body is disunited, the soul 
also may utterly perish. 
All of us, as we afterwards remarked to one another, had an 

PHitDO 8 1 

unpleasant feeling at hearing them say this. When we had been so 
firmly convinced before, now to have our faith shaken seemed to 
introduce a confusion and uncertainty, not only into the previous 
argument, but into any future one; either we were not good judges, 
or there were no real grounds of belief. 

Ech. There I feel with you — indeed I do, Phxdo, and when you 
were speaking, I was beginning to ask myself the same question: 
What argument can I ever trust again? For what could be more 
convincing than the argument of Socrates, which has now fallen 
into discredit? That the soul is a harmony is a doctrine which has 
always had a wonderful attraction for me, and, when mentioned, 
came back to me at once, as my own original conviction. And now 
I must begin again and find another argument which will assure 
me that when the man is dead the soul dies not with him. Tell me, 
I beg, how did Socrates proceed? Did he appear to share the un- 
pleasant feeling which you mention? or did he receive the interrup- 
tion calmly and give a sufficient answer? Tell us, as exactly as you 
can, what passed. 

Phced. Often, Echecrates, as I have admired Socrates, I never 
admired him more than at that moment. That he should be able 
to answer was nothing, but what astonished me was, first, the gentle 
and pleasant and approving manner in which he regarded the words 
of the young men, and then his quick sense of the wound which had 
been inflicted by the argument, and his ready application of the heal- 
ing art. He might be compared to a general rallying his defeated 
and broken army, urging them to follow him and return to the field 
of argument. 

Ech. How was that ? 

Phcrd. You shall hear, for I was close to him on his right hand, 
seated on a sort of stool, and he on a couch which was a good deal 
higher. Now he had a way of playing with my hair, and then he 
smoothed my head, and pressed the hair upon my neck, and said: 
To-morrow, Phscdo, I suppose that these fair locks of yours will be 

Yes, Socrates, I suppose that they will, I replied. 

Not so if you will take my advice. 

What shall I do with them ? I said. 


To-day, he replied, and not to-morrow, if this argument dies and 
cannot be brought to Ufe again by us, you and I will both shave our 
locks; and if I were you, and could not maintain my ground against 
Simmias and Cebes, I would myself take an oath, Hke the Argives, 
not to wear hair any more until I had renewed the conflict and 
defeated them. 

Yes, I said, but Heracles himself is said not to be a match for 

Summon me then, he said, and I will be your lolaus until the sun 
goes down. 

I summon you rather, I said, not as Heracles summoning lolaus, 
but as lolaus might summon Heracles. 

That will be all the same, he said. But first let us take care that 
we avoid a danger. 

And what is that ? I said. 

The danger of becoming misologists, he replied, which is one of 
the very worst things that can happen to us. For as there are mis- 
anthropists or haters of men, there are also misologists or haters of 
ideas, and both spring from the same cause, which is ignorance of 
the world. Misanthropy arises from the too great confidence of in- 
experience; you trust a man and think him altogether true and good 
and faithful, and then in a little while he turns out to be false and 
knavish; and then another and another, and when this has happened 
several times to a man, especially within the circle of his most 
trusted friends, as he deems them, and he has often quarreled with 
them, he at last hates all men, and believes that no one has any good 
in him at all. I dare say that you must have observed this. 

Yes, I said. 

And is not this discreditable? The reason is that a man, having 
to deal with other men, has no knowledge of them; for if he had 
knowledge he would have known the true state of the case, that few 
are the good and few the evil, and that the great majority are in the 
interval between them. 

How do you mean? I said. 

I mean, he replied, as you might say of the very large and very 
small, that nothing is more uncommon than a very large or a very 
small man; and this applies generally to all extremes, whether of 

great and small, or swift and slow, or fair and foul, or black and 
white: and whether the instances you select be men or dogs or any- 
thing else, few are the extremes, but many are in the mean between 
them. Did you never observe this? 

Yes, I said, 1 have. 

And do you not imagine, he said, that if there were a competition 
of evil, the first in evil would be found to be very few? 

Yes, that is very hkely, I said. 

Yes, that is very likely, he replied; not that in this respect argu- 
ments are like men — there I was led on by you to say more than I 
had intended; but the point of comparison was that when a simple 
man who has no skill in dialectics believes an argument to be true 
which he afterwards imagines to be false, whether really false or not, 
and then another and another, he has no longer any faith left, and 
great disputers, as you know, come to think, at last that they have 
grown to be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the 
utter unsoundness and instability of all arguments, or, indeed, of 
all things, which, like the currents in the Euripus, are going up and 
down in never-ceasing ebb and flow. 

That is quite true, I said. 

Yes, Phaedo, he replied, and very melancholy too, if there be such 
a thing as truth or certainty or power of knowing at all, that a man 
should have lighted upon some argument or other which at first 
seemed true and then turned out to be false, and instead of blaming 
himself and his own want of wit, because he is annoyed, should at 
last be too glad to transfer the blame from himself to arguments 
in general; and forever afterwards should hate and revile them, 
and lose the truth and knowledge of existence. 

Yes, indeed, I said; that is very melancholy. 

Let us, then, in the first place, he said, be careful of admitting 
into our souls the notion that there is no truth or health or sound- 
ness in any arguments at all; but let us rather say that there is as 
yet no health in us, and that we must quit ourselves like men and 
do our best to gain health — you and all other men with a view to the 
whole of your future life, and I myself with a view to death. For at 
this moment I am sensible that I have not the temper of a philos- 
opher; like the vulgar, I am only a partisan. For the partisan, when 


he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the 
question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own as- 
sertions. And the difference between him and me at the present 
moment is only this — that whereas he seeks to convince his hearers 
that what he says is true, I am rather seeking to convince myself; 
to convince my hearers is a secondary matter with me. And do but 
see how much I gain by this. For if what I say is true, then I do well 
to be persuaded of the truth, but if there be nothing after death, still, 
during the short time that remains, I shall save my friends from lam- 
entations, and my ignorance will not last, and therefore no harm 
will be done. This is the state of mind, Simmias and Cebes, in which 
I approach the argument. And I would ask you to be thinking of 
the truth and not of Socrates: agree with me, if I seem to you to be 
speaking the truth; or if not, withstand me might and main, that I 
may not deceive you as well as myself in my enthusiasm, and, like 
the bee, leave my sting in you before I die. 

And now let us proceed, he said. And first of all let me be sure 
that I have in my mind what you were saying. Simmias, if I re- 
member rightly, has fears and misgivings whether the soul, being in 
the form of harmony, although a fairer and diviner thing than the 
body, may not perish first. On the other hand, Cebes appeared to 
grant that the soul was more lasting than the body, but he said that 
no one could know whether the soul, after having worn out many 
bodies, might not perish herself and leave her last body behind her; 
and that this is death, which is the destruction not of the body but of 
the soul, for in the body the work of destruction is ever going on. 
Are not these, Simmias and Cebes, the points which we have to con- 

They both agreed to this statement of them. 

He proceeded : And did you deny the force of the whole preceding 
argument, or of a part only? 

Of a part only, they replied. 

And what did you think, he said, of that part of the argument in 
which we said that knowledge was recollection only, and inferred 
from this that the soul must have previously existed somewhere else 
before she was enclosed in the body? Cebes said that he had been 
wonderfully impressed by that part of the argument, and that his 

PHiEDO 85 

conviction remained unshaken. Simmias agreed, and added that 
he himself could hardly imagine the possibility of his ever thinking 
differently about that. 

But, rejoined Socrates, you will have to think differently, my 
Theban friend, if you still maintain that harmony is a compound, 
and that the soul is a harmony which is made out of strings set in 
the frame of the body; for you will surely never allow yourself to 
say that a harmony is prior to the elements which compose the 

No, Socrates, that is impossible. 

But do you not see that you are saying this when you say that the 
soul existed before she took the form and body of man, and was 
made up of elements which as yet had no existence? For harmony 
is not a sort of thing like the soul, as you suppose; but first the lyre, 
and the strings, and the sounds exist in a state of discord, and then 
harmony is made last of all, and perishes first. And how can such 
a notion of the soul as this agree with the other? 

Not at all, replied Simmias. 

And yet, he said, there surely ought to be harmony when harmony 
is the theme of discourse. 

There ought, replied Simmias. 

But there is no harmony, he said, in the two propositions that 
knowledge is recollection, and that the soul is a harmony. Which 
of them, then, will you retain ? 

1 think, he replied, that I have a much stronger faith, Socrates, 
in the first of the two, which has been fully demonstrated to me, 
than in the latter, which has not been demonstrated at all, but rests 
only on probable and plausible grounds; and I know too well that 
these arguments from probabilities are impostors, and unless great 
caution is observed in the use of them they are apt to be deceptive — 
in geometry, and in other things too. But the doctrine of knowl- 
edge and recollection has been proven to me on trustworthy grounds; 
and the proof was that the soul must have existed before she came 
into the body, because to her belongs the essence of which the very 
name implies existence. Having, as I am convinced, rightly accepted 
this conclusion, and on sufficient grounds, I must, as I suppose, cease 
to argue or allow others to argue that the soul is a harmony. 


Let me put the matter, Simmias, he said, in another point of view: 
Do you imagine that a harmony or any other composition can be in 
a state other than that of the elements out of which it is com- 

Certainly not. 

Or do or suffer anything other than they do or suffer? 

He agreed. 

Then a harmony does not lead the parts or elements which make 
up the harmony, but only follows them. 

He assented. 

For harmony cannot possibly have any motion, or sound, or other 
quality which is opposed to the parts. 

That would be impossible, he replied. 

And does not every harmony depend upon the manner in which 
the elements are harmonized? 

I do not understand you, he said. 

I mean to say that a harmony admits of degrees, and is more of 
a harmony, and more completely a harmony, when more com- 
pletely harmonized, if that be possible; and less of a harmony, and 
less completely a harmony, when less harmonized. 


But does the soul admit of degrees? or is one soul in the very 
least degree more or less, or more or less completely, a soul than 
another ? 

Not in the least. 

Yet surely one soul is said to have intelligence and virtue, and to 
be good, and another soul is said to have folly and vice, and to be an 
evil soul: and this is said truly? 

Yes, truly. 

But what will those who maintain the soul to be a harmony say 
of this presence of virtue and vice in the soul? — will they say that 
there is another harmony, and another discord, and that the vir- 
tuous soul is harmonized, and herself being a harmony has another 
harmony within her, and that the vicious soul is inharmonical and 
has no harmony within her? 

I cannot say, replied Simmias; but I suppose that something of 
that kind would be asserted by those who take this view. 

PHiEDO 87 

And the admission is already made that no soul is more a soul 
than another; and this is equivalent to admitting that harmony is 
not more or less harmony, or more or less completely a harmony ? 

Quite true. 

And that which is not more or less a harmony is not more or less 


And that which is not more or less harmonized cannot have more 
or less of harmony, but only an equal harmony? 

Yes, an equal harmony. 

Then one soul not being more or less absolutely a soul than 
another, is not more or less harmonized? 


And therefore has neither more nor less of harmony or of discord? 

She has not. 

And having neither more nor less of harmony or of discord, 
one soul has no more vice or virtue than another, if vice be discord 
and virtue harmony? 

Not at all more. 

Or speaking more correctly, Simmias, the soul, if she is a harmony, 
will never have any vice; because a harmony, being absolutely a 
harmony, has no part in the inharmonical ? 


And therefore a soul which is absolutely a soul has no vice? 

How can she have, consistently with the preceding argument? 

Then, according to this, if the souls of all animals are equally 
and absolutely souls, they will be equally good? 

I agree with you, Socrates, he said. 

And can all this be true, think you? he said; and are all these 
consequences admissible — which nevertheless seem to follow from 
the assumption that the soul is a harmony? 

Certainly not, he said. 

Once more, he said, what ruling principle is there of human things 
other than the soul, and especially the wise soul? Do you know of 

Indeed, I do not. 

And is the soul in agreement with the affections of the body? or 


is she at variance with them? For example, when the body is hot 
and thirsty, does not the soul incline us against drinking? and when 
the body is hungry, against eating? And this is only one instance out 
of ten thousand of the opposition of the soul to the things of the 

Very true. 

But we have already acknowledged that the soul, being a har- 
mony, can never utter a note at variance with the tensions and re- 
laxations and vibrations and other affections of the strings out of 
which she is composed; she can only follow, she cannot lead them? 

Yes, he said, we acknowledged that, certainly. 

And yet do we not now discover the soul to be doing the exact 
opposite — leading the elements of which she is believed to be com- 
posed; almost always opposing and coercing them in all sorts of 
ways throughout life, sometimes more violently with the pains of 
medicine and gymnastic; then again more gently; threatening and 
also reprimanding the desires, passions, fears, as if talking to a thing 
which is not herself, as Homer in the "Odyssey" represents Odys- 
seus doing in the words, 

"He beat his breast, and thus reproached his heart: 
Endure, my heart; far worse hast thou endured!" 

Do you think that Homer could have written this under the idea 
that the soul is a harmony capable of being led by the affections of 
the body, and not rather of a nature which leads and masters them; 
and herself a far diviner thing than any harmony ? 

Yes, Socrates, I quite agree to that. 

Then, my friend, we can never be right in saying that the soul is 
a harmony, for that would clearly contradict the divine Homer as 
well as ourselves. 

True, he said. 

Thus much, said Socrates, of Harmonia, your Theban goddess, 
Cebes, who has not been ungracious to us, I think; but what shall I 
say to the Theban Cadmus, and how shall I propitiate him? 

I think that you will discover a way of propitiating him, said 
Cebes; I am sure that you have answered the argument about har- 
mony in a manner that I could never have expected. For when 

PH.EDO 89 

Simmias mentioned his objection, I quite imagined that no answer 
could be given to him, and therefore I was surprised at finding that 
his argument could not sustain the first onset of yours; and not 
impossibly the other, whom you call Cadmus, may share a similar 

Nay, my good friend, said Socrates, let us not boast, lest some evil 
eye should put to flight the word which I am about to speak. That, 
however, may be left in the hands of those above, while I draw near 
in Homeric fashion, and try the mettle of your words. Briefly, the 
sum of your objection is as follows: You want to have proven to 
you that the soul is imperishable and immortal, and you think that 
the philosopher who is confident in death has but a vain and foolish 
confidence, if he thinks that he will fare better than one who has led 
another sort of life, in the world below, unless he can prove this; 
and you say that the demonstration of the strength and divinity of 
the soul, and of her existence prior to our becoming men, does not 
necessarily imply her immortality. Granting that the soul is long- 
lived, and has known and done much in a former state, still she is 
not on that account immortal; and her entrance into the human form 
may be a sort of disease which is the beginning of dissolution, and 
may at last, after the toils of life are over, end in that which is called 
death. And whether the soul enters into the body once only or many 
times, that, as you would say, makes no difference in the fears of 
individuals. For any man, who is not devoid of natural feeling, has 
reason to fear, if he has no knowledge or proof of the soul's immor- 
tality. That is what I suppose you to say, Cebes, which I designedly 
repeat, in order that nothing may escape us, and that you may, if you 
wish, add or subtract anything. 

But, said Cebes, as far as I can see at present, I have nothing to 
add or subtract; you have expressed my meaning. 

Socrates paused awhile, and seemed to be absorbed in reflection. 
At length he said: This is a very serious inquiry which you are 
raising, Cebes, involving the whole question of generation and cor- 
ruption, about which I will, if you like, give you my own experience; 
and you can apply this, if you think that anything which I say will 
avail towards the solution of your difficulty. 

I should very much like, said Cebes, to hear what you have to say 


Then I will teh you, said Socrates. When I was young, Cebes, 
I had a prodigious desire to know that department of philosophy 
which is called Natural Science; this appeared to me to have lofty 
aims, as being the science which has to do with the causes of things, 
and which teaches why a thing is, and is created and destroyed; 
and I was always agitating myself with the consideration of such 
questions as these: Is the growth of animals the result of some decay 
which the hot and cold principle contracts, as some have said? Is 
the blood the element with which we think, or the air, or the fire? or 
perhaps nothing of this sort — but the brain may be the originating 
power of the perceptions of hearing and sight and smell, and mem- 
ory and opinion may come from them, and science may be based 
on memory and opinion when no longer in motion, but at rest. And 
then I went on to examine the decay of them, and then to the things 
of heaven and earth, and at last I concluded that I was wholly in- 
capable of these inquiries, as I will satisfactorily prove to you. For 
I was fascinated by them to such a degree that my eyes grew blind 
to things that I had seemed to myself, and also to others, to know 
quite well; and I forgot what I had before thought to be self-evident, 
that the growth of man is the result of eating and drinking; for when 
by the digestion of food flesh is added to flesh and bone to bone, 
and whenever there is an aggregation of congenial elements, the 
lesser bulk becomes larger and the small man greater. Was not 
that a reasonable notion ? 

Yes, said Cebes, I think so. 

Well; but let me tell you something more. There was a time when 
I thought that I understood the meaning of greater and less pretty 
well; and when I saw a great man standing by a little one I fancied 
that one was taller than the other by a head; or one horse would 
appear to be greater than another horse: and still more clearly did 
I seem to perceive that ten is two more than eight, and that two 
cubits are more than one, because two is twice one. 

And what is now your notion of such matters? said Cebes. 

I should be far enough from imagining, he replied, that I knew 
the cause of any of them, indeed I should, for I cannot satisfy my- 
self that when one is added to one, the one to which the addition 
is made becomes two, or that the two units added together make 

PH^DO 91 

two by reason of the addition. For I cannot understand how, when 
separated from the other, each of them was one and not two, and 
now, when they are brought together, the mere juxtaposition of 
them can be the cause of their becoming two: nor can I understand 
how the division of one is the way to make two; for then a different 
cause would produce the same effect — as in the former instance the 
addition and juxtaposition of one to one was the cause of two, in 
this the separation and subtraction of one from the other would be 
the cause. Nor am I any longer satisfied that I understand the reason 
why one or anything else either is generated or destroyed or is at all, 
but I have in my mind some confused notion of another method, 
and can never admit this. 

Then I heard someone who had a book of Anaxagoras, as he said, 
out of which he read that mind was the disposer and cause of all, 
and I was quite delighted at the notion of this, which appeared ad- 
mirable, and I said to myself: If mind is the disposer, mind will 
dispose all for the best, and put each particular in the best place; 
and I argued that if anyone desired to find out the cause of the 
generation or destruction or existence of anything, he must find 
out what state of being or suffering or doing was best for that 
thing, and therefore a man had only to consider the best for him- 
self and others, and then he would also know the worse, for that 
the same science comprised both. And I rejoiced to think that I had 
found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the causes of existence such as I 
desired, and I imagined that he would tell me first whether the 
earth is flat or round; and then he would further explain the cause 
and the necessity of this, and would teach me the nature of the 
best and show that this was best; and if he said that the earth was 
in the centre, he would explain that this position was the best, and 
I should be satisfied if this were shown to me, and not want any 
other sort of cause. And I thought that I would then go and ask him 
about the sun and moon and stars, and that he would explain to me 
their comparative swiftness, and their returnings and various states, 
and how their several affections, active and passive, were all for the 
best. For I could not imagine that when he spoke of mind as the 
disposer of them, he would give any other account of their being as 
they are, except that this was best; and I thought when he had ex- 


plained to me in detail the cause of each and the cause of all, he 
would go on to explain to me what was best for each and what was 
best for all. I had hof)es which I would not have sold for much, 
and I seized the books and read them as fast as I could in my eager- 
ness to know the better and the worse. 

What hopes I had formed, and how grievously was I disappointed! 
As I proceeded, I found my philosopher altogether forsaking mind 
or any other principle of order, but having recourse to air, and ether, 
and water, and other eccentricities. I might compare him to a per- 
son who began by maintaining generally that mind is the cause of 
the actions of Socrates, but who, when he endeavored to explain the 
causes of my several actions in detail, went on to show that I sit 
here because my body is made up of bones and muscles; and the 
bones, as he would say, are hard and have ligaments which divide 
them, and the muscles are elastic, and they cover the bones, which 
have also a covering or environment of flesh and skin which con- 
tains them; and as the bones are lifted at their joints by the con- 
traction or relaxation of the muscles, I am able to bend my Hmbs, 
and this is why I am sitting here in a curved posture: that is what 
he would say, and he would have a similar explanation of my talking 
to you, which he would attribute to sound, and air, and hearing, and 
he would assign ten thousand other causes of the same sort, for- 
getting to mention the true cause, which is that the Athenians have 
thought fit to condemn me, and accordingly I have thought it better 
and more right to remain here and undergo my sentence; for I 
am inclined to think that these muscles and bones of mine would 
have gone off to Megara or Boeotia — by the dog of Egypt they would, 
if they had been guided only by their own idea of what was best, 
and if I had not chosen as the better and nobler part, instead of play- 
ing truant and running away, to undergo any punishment which 
the State inflicts. There is surely a strange confusion of causes and 
conditions in all this. It may be said, indeed, that without bones 
and muscles and the other parts of the body I cannot execute my 
purposes. But to say that I do as I do because of them, and that this 
is the way in which mind acts, and not from the choice of the best, 
is a very careless and idle mode of speaking. 1 wonder that they 
cannot distinguish the cause from the condition, which the many, 

PH^DO 93 

feeling about in the dark, are always mistaking and misnaming. 
And thus one man makes a vortex all round and steadies the earth 
by the heaven; another gives the air as a supjxirt to the earth, which 
is a sort of broad trough. Any power which in disposing them as 
they are disposes them for the best never enters into their minds, 
nor do they imagine that there is any superhuman strength in that; 
they rather expect to find another Atlas of the world who is 
stronger and more everlasting and more containing than the good 
is, and are clearly of opinion that the obligatory and containing 
()ower of the good is as nothing; and yet this is the principle which 
I would fain learn if anyone would teach me. But as I have failed 
either to discover myself or to learn of anyone else, the nature of the 
best, I will exhibit to you, if you like, what I have found to be the 
second best mode of inquiring into the cause. 

I should very much like to hear that, he replied. 

Socrates proceeded: I thought that as I had failed in the con- 
templation of true existence, I ought to be careful that I did not 
lose the eye of my soul; as people may injure their bodily eye by 
observing and gazing on the sun during an eclipse, unless they 
take the precaution of only looking at the image reflected in the 
water, or in some similar medium. That occurred to me, and I 
was afraid that my soul might be blinded altogether if I looked at 
things with my eyes or tried by the help of the senses to apprehend 
them. And I thought that I had better have recourse to ideas, and 
seek in them the truth of existence. I dare say that the simile is not 
perfect — for I am very far from admitting that he who contemplates 
existence through the medium of ideas, sees them only "through a 
glass darkly," any more than he who sees them in their working and 
effects. However, this was the method which I adopted: I first 
assumed some principle which I judged to be the strongest, and then 
I affirmed as true whatever seemed to agree with this, whether re- 
lating to the cause or to anything else; and that which disagreed I 
regarded as untrue. But I should like to explain my meaning clearly, 
as I do not think that you understand me. 

No, indeed, replied Cebes, not very well. 

There is nothing new, he said, in what I am about to tell you; 
but only what I have been always and everywhere repeating in the 


previous discussion and on other occasions: I want to show you the 
nature of that cause which has occupied my thoughts, and I shall 
have to go back to those familiar words which are in the mouth of 
everyone, and first of all assume that there is an absolute beauty and 
goodness and greatness, and the like; grant me this, and I hope to 
be able to show you the nature of the cause, and to prove the 
immortality of the soul. 

Cebes said : You may proceed at once with the proof, as I readily 
grant you this. 

Well, he said, then I should like to know whether you agree with 
me in the next step; for I cannot help thinking that if there be any- 
thing beautiful other than absolute beauty, that can only be beauti- 
ful in as far as it partakes of absolute beauty — and this I should say 
of everything. Do you agree in this notion of the cause P 

Yes, he said, I agree. 

He proceeded: I know nothing and can understand nothing of 
any other of those wise causes which are alleged; and if a person 
says to me that the bloom of color, or form, or anything else of that 
sort is a source of beauty, I leave all that, which is only confusing to 
me, and simply and singly, and perhaps foolishly, hold and am as- 
sured in my own mind that nothing makes a thing beautiful but the 
presence and participation of beauty in whatever way or manner ob- 
tained; for as to the manner I am uncertain, but I stoutly contend 
that by beauty all beautiful things become beautiful. That appears 
to me to be the only safe answer that I can give, either to myself or 
to any other, and to that I cling, in the persuasion that I shall never 
be overthrown, and that I may safely answer to myself or any other 
that by beauty beautiful things become beautiful. Do you not agree 
to that? 

Yes, I agree. 

And that by greatness only great things become great and greater 
greater, and by smallness the less becomes less. 


Then if a person remarks that A is taller by a head than B, and B 
less by a head than A, you would refuse to admit this, and would 
stoutly contend that what you mean is only that the greater is 
greater by, and by reason of, greatness, and the less is less only by, 

PH^DO 95 

or by reason of, smallness; and thus you would avoid the danger of 
saying that the greater is greater and the less less by the measure of 
the head, which is the same in both, and would also avoid the mon- 
strous absurdity of supposing that the greater man is greater by 
reason of the head, which is small. Would you not be afraid of that ? 

Indeed, I should, said Cebes, laughing. 

In like manner you would be afraid to say that ten exceeded eight 
by, and by reason of, two; but would say by, and by reason of, 
number; or that two cubits exceed one cubit not by a half, but by 
magnitude? — that is what you would say, for there is the same 
danger in both cases. 

Very true, he said. 

Again, would you not be cautious of affirming that the addition 
of one to one, or the division of one, is the cause of two? And you 
would loudly asseverate that you know of no way in which anything 
comes into existence except by participation in its own proper es- 
sence, and consequently, as far as you know, the only cause of two is 
the participation in duaUty; that is the way to make two, and the 
participation in one is the way to make one. You would say : I will 
let alone puzzles of division and addition — wiser heads than mine 
may answer them; inexperienced as I am, and ready to start, as the 
proverb says, at my own shadow, I cannot afford to give up the sure 
ground of a principle. And if anyone assails you there, you would 
not mind him, or answer him until you had seen whether the con- 
sequences which follow agree with one another or not, and when 
you are further required to give an explanation of this principle, you 
would go on to assume a higher principle, and the best of the 
higher ones, until you found a resting-place; but you would not re- 
fuse the principle and the consequences in your reasoning like the 
Eristics — at least if you wanted to discover real existence. Not that 
this confusion signifies to them who never care or think about the 
matter at all, for they have the wit to be well pleased with them- 
selves, however great may be the turmoil of their ideas. But you, 
if you are a philosopher, will, I believe, do as I say. 

What you say is most true, said Simmias and Cebes, both speaking 
at once. 

Ech. Yes, Phxdo; and I don't wonder at their assenting. Any- 


one who has the least sense will acknowledge the wonderful clear- 
ness of Socrates' reasoning. 

Pherd. Certainly, Echecrates; and that was the feeling of the 
whole company at the time. 

Ech. Yes, and equally of ourselves, who were not of the company, 
and are now listening to your recital. But what followed? 

Phced. After all this was admitted, and they had agreed about 
the existence of ideas and the participation in them of the other 
things which derive their names from them, Socrates, if I remember 
rightly, said: — 

This is your way of speaking; and yet when you say that Simmias 
is greater than Socrates and less than Phido, do you not predicate 
of Simmias both greatness and smallness.' 

Yes, I do. 

But still you allow that Simmias does not really exceed Socrates, 
as the words may seem to imply, because he is Simmias, but by rea- 
son of the size which he has; just as Simmias does not exceed Socrates 
because he is Simmias, any more than because Socrates is Socrates, 
but because he has smallness when compared with the greatness of 


And if Phzdo exceeds him in size, that is not because Phaedo is 
Phxdo, but because Phsedo has greatness relatively to Simmias, who 
is comparatively smaller ? 

That is true. 

And therefore Simmias is said to be great, and is also said to be 
small, because he is in a mean between them, exceeding the small- 
ness of the one by his greatness, and allowing the greatness of the 
other to exceed his smallness. He added, laughing, I am speaking 
like a book, but I believe that what I am now saying is true. 

Simmias assented to this. 

The reason why I say this is that I want you to agree with me 
in thinking, not only that absolute greatness will never be great 
and also small, but that greatness in us or in the concrete will never 
admit the small or admit of being exceeded: instead of this, one of 
two things will happen — either the greater will fly or retire before 
the opposite, which is the less, or at the advance of the less will cease 

PHiEDO 97 

to exist; but will not, if allowing or admitting smallness, be changed 
by that; even as I, having received and admitted smallness when 
compared with Simmias, remain just as I was, and am the same 
small person. And as the idea of greatness cannot condescend ever 
to be or become small, in Hke manner the smallness in us cannot be 
or become great; nor can any other opposite which remains the same 
ever be or become its own opposite, but either passes away or perishes 
in the change. 

That, replied Cebes, is quite my notion. 

One of the company, though I do not exactly remember which of 
them, on hearing this, said: By Heaven, is not this the direct con- 
trary of what was admitted before — that out of the greater came the 
less and out of the less the greater, and that opposites are simply 
generated from opposites; whereas now this seems to be utterly 

Socrates inclined his head to the speaker and listened. I like your 
courage, he said, in reminding us of this. But you do not observe 
that there is a difference in the two cases. For then we were speaking 
of opposites in the concrete, and now of the essential opposite which, 
as is affirmed, neither in us nor in nature can ever be at variance with 
itself: then, my friend, we were sp)eaking of things in which opp)o- 
sites are inherent and which are called after them, but now about the 
opposites which are inherent in them and which give their name to 
them; these essential opposites will never, as we maintain, admit of 
generation into or out of one another. At the same time, turning to 
Cebes, he said: Were you at all disconcerted, Cebes, at our friend's 
objection ? 

That was not my feeling, said Cebes; and yet I cannot deny that 
I am apt to be disconcerted. 

Then we are agreed after all, said Socrates, that the opposite will 
never in any case be opposed to itself? 

To that we are quite agreed, he replied. 

Yet once more let me ask you to consider the question from 
another point of view, and see whether you agree with me: There 
is a thing which you term heat, and another thing which you term 



But are they the same as fire and snow? 

Most assuredly not. 

Heat is not the same as fire, nor is cold the same as snow? 


And yet you will surely admit that when snow, as before said, is 
under the influence of heat, they will not remain snow and heat; but 
at the advance of the heat the snow will either retire or perish? 

Very true, he replied. 

And the fire too at the advance of the cold will either retire or 
perish; and when the fire is under the influence of the cold, they 
will not remain, as before, fire and cold. 

That is true, he said. 

And in some cases the name of the idea is not confined to the 
idea; but anything else which, not being the idea, exists only in the 
form of the idea, may also lay claim to it. I will try to make this 
clearer by an example: The odd number is always called by the 
name of odd ? 

Very true. 

But is this the only thing which is called odd? Are there not 
other things which have their own name, and yet are called odd, 
because, although not the same as oddness, they are never without 
oddness? — that is what I mean to ask — whether numbers such as 
the number three are not of the class of odd. And there are many 
other examples: would you not say, for example, that three may be 
called by its proper name, and also be called odd, which is not the 
same with three? and this may be said not only of three but also 
of five, and every alternate number — each of them without being 
oddness is odd, and in the same way two and four, and the whole 
series of alternate numbers, has every number even, without being 
evenness. Do you admit that? 

Yes, he said, how can I deny that ? 

Then now mark the point at which I am aiming: not only do es- 
sential opposites exclude one another, but also concrete things, which, 
although not in themselves opposed, contain opposites; these, I 
say, also reject the idea which is opposed to that which is contained 
in them, and at the advance of that they either perish or withdraw. 
There is the number three for example; will not that endure anni- 

PHiEDO 99 

hilation or anything sooner than be converted into an even number, 
remaining three? 

Very true, said Cebes. 

And yet, he said, the number two is certainly not opposed to the 
number three? 

It is not. 

Then not only do opposite ideas repel the advance of one another, 
but also there are other things which repel the approach of opposites. 

That is quite true, he said. 

Suppose, he said, that we endeavor, if possible, to determine 
what these are. 

By all means. 

Are they not, Cebes, such as compel the things of which they 
have possession, not only to take their own form, but also the form 
of some opposite ? 

What do you mean ? 

I mean, as I was just now saying, and have no need to repeat to 
you, that those things which are possessed by the number three must 
not only be three in number, but must also be odd. 

Quite true. 

And on this oddness, of which the number three has the impress, 
the opposite idea will never intrude? 


And this impress was given by the odd principle? 


And to the odd is opposed the even ? 


Then the idea of the even number will never arrive at three? 


Then three has no part in the even ? 


Then the triad or number three is uneven? 

Very true. 

To return then to my distinction of natures which are not oppo- 
sites, and yet do not admit opposites: as, in this instance, three, al- 
though not opposed to the even, does not any the more admit of 
the even, but always brings the opposite into play on the other side; 


or as two does not receive the odd, or fire the cold — ^from these 
examples (and there are many more of them) perhaps you may 
be able to arrive at the general conclusion that not only opposites 
will not receive opposites, but also that nothing which brings the 
opposite will admit the opposite of that which it brings in that to 
which it is brought. And here let me recapitulate — for there is 
no harm in repetition. The number five will not admit the nature 
of the even, any more than ten, which is the double of five, will ad- 
mit the nature of the odd — the double, though not strictly opposed 
to the odd, rejects the odd altogether. Nor again will parts in the 
ratio of 3: 2, nor any fraction in which there is a half, nor again in 
which there is a third, admit the notion of the whole, although they 
are not opposed to the whole. You will agree to that ? 

Yes, he said, I entirely agree and go along with you in that. 

And now, he said, I think that I may begin again; and to the 
question which I am about to ask I will beg you to give not the old 
safe answer, but another, of which I will offer you an example; and 
I hope that you will find in what has been just said another founda- 
tion which is as safe. I mean that if anyone asks you "what that is, 
the inherence of which makes the body hot," you will reply not 
heat (this is what I call the safe and stupid answer), but fire, a far 
better answer, which we are now in a condition to give. Or if any- 
one asks you "why a body is diseased," you will not say from disease, 
but from fever; and instead of saying that oddness is the cause of odd 
numbers, you will say that the monad is the cause of them: and so of 
things in general, as I dare say that you will understand sufl5ciently 
without my adducing any further examples. 

Yes, he said, I quite understand you. 

Tell me, then, what is that the inherence of which will render 
the body alive? 

The soul, he replied. 

And is this always the case? 

Yes, he said, of course. 

Then whatever the soul possesses, to that she comes bearing life? 

Yes, certainly. 

And is there any opposite to life? 

There is, he said. 


And what is that? 


Then the soul, as has been acknowledged, will never receive the 
opposite of what she brings. And now, he said, what did we call 
that principle which repels the even ? 

The odd. 

And that principle which repels the musical, or the just? 

The unmusical, he said, and the unjust. 

And what do we call the principle which does not admit of death? 

The immortal, he said. 

And does the soul admit of death? 


Then the soul is immortal? 

Yes, he said. 

And may we say that this is proven ? 

Yes, abundantly proven, Socrates, he replied. 

And supposing that the odd were imperishable, must not three 
be imp)erishable? 

Of course. 

And if that which is cold were imperishable, when the warm 
principle came attacking the snow, must not the snow have retired 
whole and unmelted — for it could never have perished, nor could 
it have remained and admitted the heat? 

True, he said. 

Again, if the uncooling or warm principle were impel ishable, 
the fire when assailed by cold would not have jDerished or have been 
extinguished, but would have gone away unaffected ? 

Certainly, he said. 

And the same may be said of the immortal: if the immortal is 
also imperishable, the soul when attacked by death cannot perish; 
for the preceding argument shows that the soul will not admit of 
death, or ever be dead, any more than three or the odd number 
will admit of the even, or fire or the heat in the fire, of the cold. 
Yet a person may say: "But although the odd will not become even 
at the approach of the even, why may not the odd perish and the 
even take the place of the odd?" Now to him who makes this ob- 
jection, we cannot answer that the odd principle is imperishable; for 


this has not been acknowledged, but if this had been acknowledged, 
there would have been no difficulty in contending that at the ap- 
proach of the even the odd principle and the number three took 
up their departure; and the same argument would have held good 
of fire and heat and any other thing. 

Very true. 

And the same may be said of the immortal: if the immortal is 
also imperishable, then the soul will be imperishable as well as im- 
mortal; but if not, some other proof of her imperishableness will 
have to be given. 

No other proof is needed, he said; for if the immortal, being 
eternal, is liable to perish, then nothing is imperishable. 

Yes, replied Socrates, all men will agree that God, and the essential 
form of life, and the immortal in general, will never perish. 

Yes, all men, he said — that is true; and what is more, gods, if I 
am not mistaken, as well as men. 

Seeing then that the immortal is indestructible, must not the soul, 
if she is immortal, be also imperishable? 

Most certainly. 

Then when death attacks a man, the mortal portion of him may 
be supposed to die, but the immortal goes out of the way of death 
and is preserved safe and sound ? 


Then, Cebes, beyond question the soul is immortal and imperish- 
able, and our souls will truly exist in another world! 

I am convinced, Socrates, said Cebes, and have nothing more to 
object; but if my friend Simmias, or anyone else, has any further 
objection, he had better speak out, and not keep silence, since I do not 
know how there can ever be a more fitting time to which he can 
defer the discussion, if there is anything which he wants to say or 
have said. 

But I have nothing more to say, replied Simmias; nor do I see 
any room for uncertainty, except that which arises necessarily out of 
the greatness of the subject and the feebleness of man, and which I 
cannot help feeling. 

Yes, Simmias, replied Socrates, that is well said: and more than 
that, first principles, even if they appear certain, should be carefully 

PHiEDO 103 

considered; and when they are satisfactorily ascertained, then, with a 
sort of hesitating confidence in human reason, you may, I think, 
follow the course of the argument; and if this is clear, there will be 
no need for any further inquiry. 

That, he said, is true. 

But then, O my friends, he said, if the soul is really immortal, 
what care should be taken of her, not only in Respect of the portion 
of time which is called life, but of eternity! And the danger of neg- 
lecting her from this point of view does indeed appear to be awful. 
If death had only been the end of all, the wicked would have had a 
good bargain in dying, for they would have been happily quit not 
only of their body, but of their own evil together with their souls. 
But now, as the soul plainly appears to be immortal, there is no 
release or salvation from evil except the attainment of the highest 
virtue and wisdom. For the soul when on her progress to the world 
below takes nothing with her but nurture and education; which are 
indeed said greatly to benefit or greatly to injure the departed, at the 
very beginning of its pilgrimage in the other world. 

For after death, as they say, the genius of each individual, to 
whom he belonged in life, leads him to a certain place in which the 
dead are gathered together for judgment, whence they go into the 
world below, following the guide who is appointed to conduct them 
from this world to the other: and when they have there received 
their due and remained their time, another guide brings them back 
again after many revolutions of ages. Now this journey to the other 
world is not, as illschylus says in the "Telephus," a single and 
straight path — no guide would be wanted for that, and no one could 
miss a single path; but there are many partings of the road, and 
windings, as I must infer from the rites and sacrifices which are 
offered to the gods below in places where three ways meet on earth. 
The wise and orderly soul is conscious of her situation and follows 
in the path; but the soul which desires the body, and which, as I 
was relating before, has long been fluttering about the lifeless frame 
and the world of sight, is after many struggles and many sufferings 
hardly and with violence carried away by her attendant genius, and 
when she arrives at the place where the other souls are gathered, 
if she be impure and have done impure deeds, or been concerned 


in foul murders or other crimes which are the brothers of these, and 
the works of brothers in crime — from that soul everyone flees and 
turns away; no one will be her companion, no one her guide, but 
alone she wanders in extremity of evil until certain times are ful- 
filled, and when they are fulfilled, she is borne irresistibly to her own 
fitting habitation; as every pure and just soul which has passed 
through life in the company and under the guidance of the gods 
has also her own proper home. 

Now the earth has divers wonderful regions, and is indeed in 
nature and extent very unlike the notions of geographers, as I be- 
lieve on the authority of one who shall be nameless. 

What do you mean, Socrates? said Simmias. I have myself 
heard many descriptions of the earth, but I do not know in what you 
are putting your faith, and I should like to know. 

Well, Simmias, replied Socrates, the recital of a tale does not, I 
think, require the art of Glaucus; and I know not that the art of 
Glaucus could prove the truth of my tale, which I myself should 
never be able to prove, and even if I could, I fear, Simmias, that my 
life would come to an end before the argument was completed. I 
may describe to you, however, the form and regions of the earth 
according to my conception of them. 

That, said Simmias, will be enough. 

Well, then, he said, my conviction is that the earth is a round 
body in the center of the heavens, and therefore has no need of 
air or any similar force as a support, but is kept there and hindered 
from falling or inclining any way by the equability of the surround- 
ing heaven and by her own equipoise. For that which, being in 
equipoise, is in the center of that which is equably diffused, will not 
incline any way in any degree, but will always remain in the same 
state and not deviate. And this is my first notion. 

Which is surely a correct one, said Simmias. 

Also I believe that the earth is very vast, and that we who dwell 
in the region extending from the river Phasis to the Pillars of 
Heracles, along the borders of the sea, are just like ants or frogs about 
a marsh, and inhabit a small portion only, and that many others 
dwell in many like places. For I should say that in all parts of the 
earth there are hollows of various forms and sizes, into which the 


water and the mist and the air collect; and that the true earth is 
pure and in the pure heaven, in which also are the stars — that is the 
heaven which is commonly spoken of as the ether, of which this is 
but the sediment collecting in the hollows of the earth. But we who 
live in these hollows are deceived into the notion that we are dwell- 
ing above on the surface of the earth; which is just as if a creature 
who was at the bottom of the sea were to fancy that he was on the 
surface of the water, and that the sea was the heaven through which 
he saw the sun and the other stars — he having never come to the 
surface by reason of his feebleness and sluggishness, and having 
never lifted up his head and seen, nor ever heard from one who had 
seen, this region which is so much purer and fairer than his own. 
Now this is exactly our case: for we are dwelling in a hollow of the 
earth, and fancy that we are on the surface; and the air we call the 
heaven, and in this we imagine that the stars move. But this is also 
owing to our feebleness and sluggishness, which prevent our reach- 
ing the surface of the air: for if any man could arrive at the exterior 
limit, or take the wings of a bird and fly upward, like a fish who 
puts his head out and sees this world, he would see a world beyond; 
and, if the nature of man could sustain the sight, he would acknowl- 
edge that this was the place of the true heaven and the true light and 
the true stars. For this earth, and the stones, and the entire region 
which surrounds us, are spoilt and corroded, like the things in the 
sea which are corroded by the brine; for in the sea too there is hardly 
any noble or perfect growth, but clefts only, and sand, and an end- 
less slough of mud: and even the shore is not to be compared to the 
fairer sights of this world. And greater far is the superiority of the 
other. Now of that upper earth which is under the heaven, I can 
tell you a charming tale, Simmias, which is well worth hearing. 

And we, Socrates, replied Simmias, shall be charmed to listen. 

The tale, my friend, he said, is as follows: In the first place, the 
earth, when looked at from above, is like one of those balls which 
have leather coverings in twelve pieces, and is of divers colors, of 
which the colors which painters use on earth are only a sample. 
But there the whole earth is made up of them, and they are brighter 
far and clearer than ours; there is a purple of wonderful luster, also 
the radiance of gold, and the white which is in the earth is whiter 


than any chalk or snow. Of these and other colors the earth is made 
up, and they are more in number and fairer than the eye of man 
has ever seen; and the very hollows (of which I was speaking) 
filled with air and water are seen like light flashing amid the other 
colors, and have a color of their own, which gives a sort of unity 
to the variety of earth. And in this fair region everything that 
grows — trees, and flowers, and fruits — is in a like degree fairer than 
any here; and there are hills, and stones in them in a like degree 
smoother, and more transparent, and fairer in color than our highly 
valued emeralds and sardonyxes and jaspers, and other gems, which 
are but minute fragments of them: for there all the stones are like 
our precious stones, and fairer still. The reason of this is that they 
are pure, and not, like our precious stones, infected or corroded by 
the corrupt briny elements which coagulate among us, and which 
breed foulness and disease both in earth and stones, as well as in 
animals and plants. They are the jewels of the upper earth, which 
also shines with gold and silver and the like, and they are visible to 
sight and large and abundant and found in every region of the earth, 
and blessed is he who sees them. And upon the earth are animals 
and men, some in a middle region, others dwelling about the air as 
we dwell about the sea; others in islands which the air flows round, 
near the continent: and in a word, the air is used by them as the 
water and the sea are by us, and the ether is to them what the air is 
to us. Moreover, the temperament of their seasons is such that they 
have no disease, and live much longer than we do, and have sight 
and hearing and smell, and all the other senses, in far greater f)er- 
fection, in the same degree that air is purer than water or the ether 
than air. Also they have temples and sacred places in which the 
gods really dwell, and they hear their voices and receive their an- 
swers, and are conscious of them and hold converse with them, and 
they see the sun, moon, and stars as they really are, and their other 
blessedness is of a piece with this. 

Such is the nature of the whole earth, and of the things which are 
around the earth; and there are divers regions in the hollows on 
the face of the globe everywhere, some of them deeper and also 
wider than that which we inhabit, others deeper and with a narrower 
opening than ours, and some are shallower and wider; all have 

PH.EDO 107 

numerous perforations, and passages broad and narrow in the in- 
terior of the earth, connecting them with one another; and there 
flows into and out of them, as into basins, a vast tide of water, and 
huge subterranean streams of perennial rivers, and springs hot and 
cold, and a great fire, and great rivers of fire, and streams of liquid 
mud, thin or thick (like the rivers of mud in Sicily, and the lava- 
streams which follow them), and the regions about which they 
happen to flow are filled up with them. And there is a sort of swing 
in the interior of the earth which moves all this up and down. Now 
the swing is in this wise: There is a chasm which is the vastest of 
them all, and pierces right through the whole earth; this is that 
which Homer describes in the words, 

"Far off, where is the inmost depth beneath the earth"; 

and which he in other places, and many other poets, have called 
Tartarus. And the swing is caused by the streams flowing into 
and out of this chasm, and they each have the nature of the soil 
through which they flow. And the reason why the streams are always 
flowing in and out is that the watery element has no bed or bottom, 
and is surging and swinging up and down, and the surrounding 
wind and air do the same; they follow the water up and down, hither 
and thither, over the earth — just as in respiring the air is always in 
process of inhalation and exhalation; and the wind swinging with 
the water in and out produces fearful and irresistible blasts: when 
the waters retire with a rush into the lower parts of the earth, as 
they are called, they flow through the earth into those regions, and 
fill them up as with the alternate motion of a pump, and then when 
they leave those regions and rush back hither, they again fill the hol- 
lows here, and when these are filled, flow through subterranean 
channels and find their way to their several places, forming seas, 
and lakes, and rivers, and springs. Thence they again enter the 
earth, some of them making a long circuit into many lands, others 
going to few places and those not distant, and again fall into 
Tartarus, some at a point a good deal lower than that at which they 
rose, and others not much lower, but all in some degree lower than 
the point of issue. And some burst forth again on the opposite sid^ 
and some on the same side, and some wind round the earth with 


one or many folds, like the coils of a serpent, and descend as far as 
they can, but always return and fall into the lake. The rivers on 
either side can descend only to the center and no further, for to the 
rivers on both sides the opposite side is a precipice. 

Now these rivers are many, and mighty, and diverse, and there 
are four principal ones, of which the greatest and outermost is that 
called Oceanus, which flows round the earth in a circle; and in the 
opposite direction flows Acheron, which passes under the earth 
through desert places, into the Acherusian Lake: this is the lake to 
the shores of which the souls of the many go when they are dead, 
and after waiting an appointed time, which is to some a longer and 
to some a shorter time, they are sent back again to be born as animals. 
The third river rises between the two, and near the place of rising 
pours into a vast region of fire, and forms a lake larger than the 
Mediterranean Sea, boiling with water and mud; and proceeding 
muddy and turbid, and winding about the earth, comes, among 
other places, to the extremities of the Acherusian Lake, but mingles 
not with the waters of the lake, and after making many coils about 
the earth plunges into Tartarus at a deeper level. This is that 
Pyriphlegethon, as the stream is called, which throws up jets of fire 
in all sorts of places. The foiuth river goes out on the opposite side, 
and falls first of all into a wild and savage region, which is all of a 
dark-blue color, like lapis lazuli; and this is that river which is 
called the Stygian River, and falls into and forms the Lake Styx, 
and after falling into the lake and receiving strange powers in the 
waters, passes under the earth, winding round in the opposite direc- 
tion to Pyriphlegethon, and meeting in the Acherusian Lake from 
the opposite side. And the water of this river too mingles with no 
other, but flows round in a circle and falls into Tartarus over against 
Pyriphlegethon, and the name of this river, as the poet says, is 

Such is the name of the other world; and when the dead arrive 
at the place to which the genius of each severally conveys them, 
first of all they have sentence passed upon them, as they have lived 
well and piously or not. And those who appear to have lived neither 
well nor ill, go to the river Acheron, and mount such conveyances 
as they can get, and are carried in them to the lake, and there they 

PHiEDO 109 

dwell and are purified of their evil deeds, and suffer the penalty of 
the wrongs which they have done to others, and are absolved, and 
receive the rewards of their good deeds according to their deserts. 
But those who appear to be incurable by reason of the greatness of 
their crimes — who have committed many and terrible deeds of 
sacrilege, murders foul and violent, or the like — such are hurled 
into Tartarus, which is their suitable destiny, and they never come 
out. Those again who have committed crimes, which, although 
great, are not unpardonable — who in a moment of anger, for ex- 
ample, have done violence to a father or mother, and have repented 
for the remainder of their lives, or who have taken the life of 
another under like extenuating circumstances — these are plunged 
into Tartarus, the pains of which they are compelled to undergo 
for a year, but at the end of the year the wave casts them forth — 
mere homicides by way of Cocytus, parricides and matricides by 
Pyriphlegethon — and they are borne to the Acherusian Lake, and 
there they lift up their voices and call upon the victims whom they 
have slain or wronged, to have pity on them, and to receive them, 
and to let them come out of the river into the lake. And if they 
prevail, then they come forth and cease from their troubles; but if 
not, they are carried back again into Tartarus and from thence into 
the rivers unceasingly, until they obtain mercy from those whom 
they have wronged: for that is the sentence inflicted upon them by 
their judges. Those also who are remarkable for having led holy 
lives are released from this earthly prison, and go to their pure home 
which is above, and dwell in the purer earth; and those who have 
duly purified themselves with philosophy live henceforth altogether 
without the body, in mansions fairer far than these, which may not 
be described, and of which the time would fail me to tell. 

Wherefore, Simmias, seeing all these things, what ought not we 
to do in order to obtain virtue and wisdom in this life.? Fair is the 
prize, and the hope great. 

I do not mean to affirm that the description which I have given of 
the soul and her mansions is exactly true — a man of sense ought 
hardly to say that. But I do say that, inasmuch as the soul is shown 
to be immortal, he may venture to think, not improperly or un- 
worthily, that something of the kind is true. The venture is a 


glorious one, and he ought to comfort himself with words like these, 
which is the reason why I lengthen out the tale. Wherefore, I say, 
let a man be of good cheer about his soul, who has cast away the 
pleasures and ornaments of the body as alien to him, and rather hurt- 
ful in their effects, and has followed after the pleasures of knowl- 
edge in this life; who has adorned the soul in her own proper jewels, 
which are temperance, and justice, and courage, and nobility, and 
truth — in these arrayed she is ready to go on her journey to the 
world below, when her time comes. You, Simmias and Cebes, and 
all other men, will depart at some time or other. Me already, as the 
tragic poet would say, the voice of fate calls. Soon I must drink 
the poison; and I think that 1 had better repair to the bath first, in 
order that the women may not have the trouble of washing my body 
after I am dead. 

When he had done speaking, Crito said: And have you any com- 
mands for us, Socrates — anything to say about your children, or any 
other matter in which we can serve you? 

Nothing particular, he said: only, as I have always told you, I 
would have you look to yourselves; that is a service which you may 
always be doing to me and mine as well as to yourselves. And you 
need not make professions; for if you take no thought for yourselves, 
and walk not according to the precepts which I have given you, 
not now for the first time, the warmth of your professions will be of 
no avail. 

We will do our best, said Crito. But in what way would you have 
us bury you? 

In any way that you like; only you must get hold of me, and take 
care that I do not walk away from you. Then he turned to us, and 
added with a smile: I cannot make Crito believe that I am the same 
Socrates who have been talking and conducting the argument; he 
fancies that I am the other Socrates whom he will soon see, a dead 
body — and he asks, How shall he bury me? And though I have 
spoken many words in the endeavor to show that when I have drunk 
the poison I shall leave you and go to the joys of the blessed — these 
words of mine, with which I comforted you and myself, have had, 
I perceive, no effect upon Crito. And therefore I want you to be 
surety for me now, as he was surety for me at the trial: but let the 


promise be of another sort; for he was my surety to the judges that 
I would remain, but you must be my surety to him that I shall not 
remain, but go away and depart; and then he will suffer less at my 
death, and not be grieved when he sees my body being burned or 
buried. I would not have him sorrow at my hard lot, or say at the 
burial. Thus we lay out Socrates, or. Thus we follow him to the 
grave or bury him; for false words are not only evil in themselves, 
but they infect the soul with evil. Be of good cheer, then, my dear 
Crito, and say that you are burying my body only, and do with that 
as is usual, and as you think best. 

When he had spoken these words, he arose and went into the 
bath chamber with Crito, who bade us wait; and we waited, talking 
and thinking of the subject of discourse, and also of the greatness 
of our sorrow; he was like a father of whom we were being bereaved, 
and we were about to pass the rest of our lives as orphans. When 
he had taken the bath his children were brought to him — (he had 
two young sons and an elder one); and the women of his family 
also came, and he talked to them and gave them a few directions 
in the presence of Crito; and he then dismissed them and returned 
to us. 

Now the hour of sunset was near, for a good deal of time had 
passed while he was within. When he came out, he sat down with 
us again after his bath, but not much was said. Soon the jailer, who 
was the servant of the Eleven, entered and stood by him, saying: 
To you, Socrates, whom I know to be the noblest and gentlest and 
best of all who ever came to this place, I will not impute the angry 
feelings of other men, who rage and swear at me when, in obedience 
to the authorities, I bid them drink the f)oison — indeed, I am sure 
that you will not be angry with me; for others, as you are aware, and 
not I, are the guilty cause. And so fare you well, and try to bear 
lightly what must needs be; you know my errand. Then bursting 
into tears he turned away and went out. 

Socrates looked at him and said: I return your good wishes, 
and will do as you bid. Then, turning to us, he said. How charming 
the man is: since I have been in prison he has always been coming 
to see me, and at times he would talk to me, and was as good as 
could be to me, and now see how generously he sorrows for me. But 


we must do as he says, Crito; let the cup be brought, if the poison 
is prepared: if not, let the attendant prepare some. 

Yet, said Crito, the sun is still upon the hilltops, and many a one 
has taken the draught late, and after the announcement has been 
made to him, he has eaten and drunk, and indulged in sensual 
delights; do not hasten then, there is still time. 

Socrates said: Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak are right 
in doing thus, for they think that they will gain by the delay; but 
I am right in not doing thus, for I do not think that I should gain 
anything by drinking the poison a little later; I should be sparing 
and saving a life which is already gone: I could only laugh at 
myself for this. Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me. 

Crito, when he heard this, made a sign to the servant, and the 
servant went in, and remained for some time, and then returned with 
the jailer carrying a cup of poison. Socrates said: You, my good 
friend, who are exf)erienced in these matters, shall give me directions 
how I am to proceed. The man answered: You have only to walk 
about until your legs are heavy, and then to lie down, and the poison 
will act. At the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in the 
easiest and gentlest manner, without the least fear or change of 
color or feature, looking at the man with all his eyes, Echecrates, as 
his manner was, took the cup and said: What do you say about 
making a libation out of this cup to any god? May I, or not? The 
man answered: We only prepare, Socrates, just so much as we deem 
enough. I understand, he said: yet I may and must pray to the gods 
to prosper my journey from this to that other world — may this, 
then, which is my prayer, be granted to me. Then holding the cup to 
his lips, quite readily and cheerfully he drank off the poison. And 
hitherto most of us had been able to control our sorrow; but now 
when we saw him drinking, and saw too that he had finished the 
draught, we could no longer forbear, and in spite of myself my own 
tears were flowing fast; so that I covered my face and wept over 
myself, for certainly I was not weeping over him, but at the thought 
of my own calamity in having lost such a companion. Nor was I 
the first, for Crito, when he found himself unable to restrain his 
tears, had got up and moved away, and I followed; and at that 
moment, Apollodorus, who had been weeping all the time, broke 

PH^DO 1 13 

out in a loud cry which made cowards of us all. Socrates alone re- 
tained his calmness: What is this strange outcry? he said. I sent 
away the women mainly in order that they might not offend in this 
way, for I have heard that a man should die in peace. Be quiet, then, 
and have patience. 

When we heard that, we were ashamed, and refrained our tears; 
and he walked about until, as he said, his legs began to fail, and then 
he lay on his back, according to the directions, and the man who 
gave him the poison now and then looked at his feet and legs; and 
after a while he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel; 
and he said, no; and then his leg, and so upwards and upwards, and 
showed us that he was cold and stiff. And he felt them himself, and 
said: When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end. He 
was beginning to grow cold about the groin, when he uncovered 
his face, for he had covered himself up, and said (they were his 
last words) — he said: Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius; will you 
remember to pay the debt? The debt shall be paid, said Crito; is 
there anything else? There was no answer to this question; but in 
a minute or two a movement was heard, and the attendants un- 
covered him; his eyes were set, and Crito closed his eyes and mouth. 

Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend, whom I may truly 
call the wisest, and justest, and best of all the men whom I have 
ever known. 






Epictetus was a Greek, born at Hierapolis in Phrygia, probably about 
the middle of the first century A.D. His early history is unknown till 
we find him in Rome, the slave of Epaphroditus, a freedman of Nero's. 
The lameness, which is the only physical characteristic of his recorded, 
was, according to one tradition, due to tortures inflicted by his master. 
He seems to have become acquainted with the principles of the Stoic 
philosophy through the lectures of C. Musonius Rufus; and after his 
emancipation he became a teacher of that system in Rome. When the 
Emperor Domitian banished all philosophers from Italy about 90 A.D., 
Epictetus went to Nicojxjlis in Epirus, where he continued his teaching. 
He left nothing in writing, and for a knowledge of his utterances we 
are indebted to his disciple, the Greek philosopher and historian Arrian, 
who compiled from his master's lectures and conversations the "Dis- 
courses and Encheiridion," from which the "Golden Sayings" are drawn. 
The date and circumstances of his death are unknown. 

Epictetus is a main authority on Stoic morals. The points on which 
he laid chief stress were the importance of cultivating complete inde- 
pendence of external circumstances, the realization that man must find 
happiness within himself, and the duty of reverencing the voice of 
Reason in the soul. Few teachers of morals in any age are so bracing and 
invigorating; and the tonic quality of his utterances has been recognized 
ever since his own day by Pagan and Christian alike. 


ARE these the only works of Providence in us? What words 
ZJk suffice to praise or set them forth? Had we but under- 
X ^ standing, should we ever cease hymning and blessing the 
Divine Power, both openly and in secret, and telling of His gracious 
gifts? Whether digging or ploughing or eating, should we not 
sing the hymn to God: — 

Great is God, for that He hath given us such instruments to till the 
ground withal: 

Great is God, for that He hath given us hands, and the pwwer of swallow- 
ing and digesting; of unconsciously growing and breathing while 
we sleep! 

Thus should we ever have sung: yea and this, the grandest and 
divinest hymn of all: — 

Great is God, for that He hath given us a mind to apprehend these things, 
and duly to use them! 

What then! seeing that most of you are blinded, should there not 
be some one to fill this place, and sing the hymn to God on behalf 
of all men? What else can I that am old and lame do but sing to 
God? Were I a nightingale, I should do after the manner of a 
nightingale. Were I a swan, I should do after the manner of a 
swan. But now, since I am a reasonable being, I must sing to God: 
that is my work : I do it, nor will I desert this my post, as long as it 
is granted me to hold it; and upon you too I call to join in this self- 
same hymn, 


How then do men act? As though one returning to his country 
who had sojourned for the night in a fair inn, shoidd be so captivated 
thereby as to take up his abode there. 



"Friend, thou hast forgotten thine intention! This was not thy 
destination, but only lay on the way thither." 

"Nay, but it is a proper place." 

"And how many more of the sort there be; only to pass through 
upon thy way! Thy purpose was to return to thy country; to relieve 
thy kinsmen's fears for thee; thyself to discharge the duties of a 
citizen; to marry a wife, to beget offspring, and to fill the appointed 
round of office. Thou didst not come to choose out what places are 
most pleasant; but rather to return to that wherein thou wast born 
and where thou wert appointed to be a citizen." 


Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men. 


But I have one whom I must please, to whom I must be subject, 
whom I must obey: — God, and those who come next to Him.' He 
hath entrusted me with myself: He hath made my will subject to 
myself alone and given me rules for the right use thereof. 

Rufus^ used to say, // you have leisure to praise me. what I say 
is naught. In truth he spoke in such wise, that each of us who sat 
there, thought that some one had accused him to Rufus: — so surely 
did he lay his finger on the very deeds we did: so surely display the 
faults of each before his very eyes. 


But what saith God? — "Had it been possible, Epictetus, I would 
have made both that body of thine and thy possessions free and un- 
impeded, but as it is, be not deceived: — it is not thine own; it is but 
finely tempered clay. Since then this I could not do, I have given 
thee a portion of Myself, in the power of desiring and declining and 
of pursuing and avoiding, and in a word the power of dealing with 

' I.e., "good and just men." 

' C. Musonius Rufus, a Stoic philosopher, whose lectures Epictetus had attended. 


the things of sense. And if thou neglect not this, but place all that 
thou hast therein, thou shalt never be let or hindered; thou shall 
never lament; thou shalt not blame or flatter any. What then? 
Seemeth this to thee a little thing?" — God forbid! — "Be content 
then therewith!" 
And so I pray the Gods. 


What saith Antisthenes?' Hast thou never heard? — 

// is a l{ingly thing, O Cyrus, to do well and to be evil spoken of. 


"Aye, but to debase myself thus were unworthy of me." 
"That," said Epictetus, "is for you to consider, not for me. You 
know yourself what you are worth in your own eyes; and at what 
price you will sell yourself. For men sell themselves at various prices. 
This was why, when Florus was deliberating whether he should 
appear at Nero's shows, taking part in the performance himself, 
Agrippinus replied, 'Appear by all means.' And when Florus in- 
quired, 'But why do not you appear?' he answered, 'Because I do 
not even consider the question.' For the man who has once stooped 
to consider such questions, and to reckon up the value of external 
things, is not far from forgetting what manner of man he is. Why, 
what is it that you ask me? Is death preferable, or life? I reply. 
Life. Pain or pleasure? I reply. Pleasure." 
"Well, but if I do not act, I shall lose my head." 
"Then go and act! But for my part I will not act." 

"Because you think yourself but one among the many threads 
which make up the texture of the doublet. You should aim at being 
like men in general — just as your thread has no ambition either to 
be anything distinguished compared with the other threads. But I 
desire to be the purple — that small and shining part which makes the 
rest seem fair and beautiful. Why then do you bid me become even 
as the multitude ? Then were I no longer the purple." 

' The founder of the Cynic school of philosophy. 



If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with this 
thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, 
and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he 
would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if 
Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; 
will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? 
Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these 
two things are commingled — the body which we share with the 
animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the 
Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, 
few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every 
one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms 
about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, 
and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never 
conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the 
contrary. Why, what am I? — A wretched human creature; with this 
miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something 
better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, 
and neglect the other ? 


Thou art but a poor soul laden with a lifeless body. 


The other day I had an iron lamp placed beside my household 
gods. I heard a noise at the door and on hastening down found my 
lamp carried off. I reflected that the culprit was in no very strange 
case. "To-morrow, my friend," I said, "you will find an earthenware 
lamp; for a man can only lose what he has." 


The reason why I lost my lamp was that the thief was superior 
to me in vigilance. He paid however this price for the lamp, that in 
exchange for it he consented to become a thief: in exchange for it, 
to become faithless. 



But God hath introduced Man to be a spectator of Himself and of 
His works; and not a spectator only, but also an interpreter of them. 
Wherefore it is a shame for man to begin and to leave off where the 
brutes do. Rather he should begin there, and leave off where Nature 
leaves off in us: and that is at contemplation, and understanding, 
and a manner of life that is in harmony with herself. 

See then that ye die not without being spectators of these things. 


You journey to Olympia to see the work of Phidias; and each of 
you holds it a misfortune not to have beheld these things before you 
die. Whereas when there is no need even to take a journey, but you 
are on the spot, with the works before you, have you no care to con- 
template and study these? 

Will you not then p)erceive either who you are or unto what end 
you were born: or for what purpose the power of contemplation 
has been bestowed upon you ? 

"Well, but in life there are some things disagreeable and hard to 

And are there none at Olympia? Are you not scorched by the 
heat ? Are you not cramped for room ? Have you not to bathe with 
discomfort? Are you not drenched when it rains? Have you not to 
endure the clamour and shouting and such annoyances as these? 
Well, I suppose you set all this over against the splendour of the spec- 
tacle, and bear it patiently. What then ? have you not received powers 
wherewith to endure all that comes to pass? have you not received 
greatness of heart, received courage, received fortitude ? What care 
I, if I am great of heart, for aught that can come to pass? What shall 
cast me down or disturb me? What shall seem painful? Shall I not 
use the power to the end for which I received it, instead of moaning 
and wailing over what comes to pass? 


If what philosophers say of the kinship of God and Men be true, 
what remains for men to do but as Socrates did: — never, when asked 


one's country, to answer, "I am an Athenian or a Corinthian," but 
"I am a citizen of the world." 


He that hath grasped the administration of the World, who hath 
learned that this Community, which consists of God and men, is 
the foremost and mightiest and most comprehensive of all: — that 
from God have descended the germs of life, not to my father only 
and father's father, but to all things that are born and grow upon 
the earth, and in an especial manner to those endowed with Reason 
(for those only are by their nature fitted to hold communion with 
God, being by means of Reason conjoined with Him) — why should 
not such an one call himself a citizen of the world ? Why not a son 
of God? Why should he fear aught that comes to pass among men? 
Shall kinship with Cxsar, or any other of the great at Rome, be 
enough to hedge men around with safety and consideration, with- 
out a thought of apprehension: while to have God for our Maker, 
and Father, and Kinsman, shall not this set us free from sorrows 
and fears? 


I do not think that an old fellow like me need have been sitting 
here to try and prevent your entertaining abject notions of your- 
selves, and talking of yourselves in an abject and ignoble way: but to 
prevent there being by chance among you any such young men as, 
after recognising their kindred to the Gods, and their bondage in 
these chains of the body and its manifold necessities, should desire to 
cast them off as burdens too grievous to be borne, and depart to their 
true kindred. This is the struggle in which your Master and Teacher, 
were he worthy of the name, should be engaged. You would come to 
me and say: "Epictetus, we can no longer endure being chained to 
this wretched body, giving it food and drink and rest and puri- 
fication; aye, and for its sake forced to be subservient to this man 
and that. Are not these things indifferent and nothing to us? Is it 
not true that death is no evil? Are we not in a manner kinsmen of 
the Gods, and have we not come from them ? Let us depart thither, 
whence we came: let us be freed from these chains that confine and 


press us down. Here are thieves and robbers and tribunals: and 
they that are called tyrants, who deem that they have after a fashion 
power over us, because of the miserable body and what appertains 
to it. Let us show them that they have power over none." 


And to this I reply: — 

"Friends, wait for God. When He gives the signal, and releases 
you from this service, then depart to Him. But for the present, en- 
dure to dwell in the place wherein He hath assigned you your post. 
Short indeed is the time of your habitation therein, and easy to 
those that are thus minded. What tyrant, what robber, what tri- 
bunals have any terrors for those who thus esteem the body and 
all that belong to it as of no account.'' Stay; depart not rashly 


Something like that is what should pass between a teacher and 
ingenuous youths. As it is, what does pass.' The teacher is a lifeless 
body, and you are Ufeless bodies yourselves. When you have had 
enough to eat to-day, you sit down and weep about to-morrow's 
food. Slave! if you have it, well and good; if not, you will depart: 
the door is open — why lament.? What further room is there for 
tears? What further occasion for flattery? Why should one envy 
another? Why should you stand in awe of them that have much or 
are placed in power, especially if they be also strong and passionate ? 
Why, what should they do to us? What they can do, we will not 
regard: what does concern us, that they cannot do. Who then shall 
still rule one that is thus minded ? 

Seeing this then, and noting well the faculties which you have, 
you should say, — "Send now, O God, any trial that Thou wilt; lo, 
I have means and powers given me by Thee to acquit myself with 
honour through whatever comes to pass!" — No; but there you sit, 
trembling for fear certain things should come to pass, and moaning 


and groaning and lamenting over what does come to pass. And 
then you upbraid the Gods. Such meanness of spirit can have but 
one result — impiety. 

Yet God has not only given us these faculties by means of which 
we may bear everything that comes to pass without being crushed 
or depressed thereby; but like a good King and Father, He has 
given us this without let or hindrance, placed wholly at our own 
disposition, without reserving to Himself any power of impediment 
or restraint. Though possessing all these things free and all your 
own, you do not use themi you do not perceive what it is you have 
received nor whence it comes, but sit moaning and groaning; some 
of you blind to the Giver, making no acknowledgment to your 
Benefactor; others basely giving themselves to complaints and accu- 
sations against God. 

Yet what faculties and powers you possess for attaining courage 
and greatness of heart, I can easily show you; what you have for 
upbraiding and accusation, it is for you to show me! 


How did Socrates bear himself in this regard? How else than as 
became one who was fully assured that he was the kinsman of the 


If God had made that part of His own nature which He severed 
from Himself and gave to us, liable to be hindered or constrained 
either by Himself or any other. He would not have been God, nor 
would He have been taking care of us as He ought. ... If you 
choose, you are free; if you choose, you need blame no man — accuse 
no man. All things will be at once according to your mind and 
according to the Mind of God. 


Petrifaction is of two sorts. There is petrifaction of the under- 
standing; and also of the sense of shame. This happens when a 
man obstinately refuses to acknowledge plain truths, and persists in 
maintaining what is self<ontradictory. Most of us dread mortifi- 


cation of the body, and would spare no pains to escape anything of 
that kind. But of mortification of the soul we are utterly heedless. 
With regard, indeed, to the soul, if a man is in such a state as to be 
incapable of following or understanding anything, I grant you we 
do think him in a bad way. But mortification of the sense of shame 
and modesty we go so far as to dub strength of mind! 


If we were as intent upon our own business as the old fellows at 
Rome are upon what interests them, we too might perhaps accom- 
plish something. I know a man older than I am, now Superintendent 
of the Corn-market at Rome, and I remember when he passed 
through this place on his way back from exile, what an account he 
gave me of his former life, declaring that for the future, once home 
again, his only care should be to pass his remaining years in quiet 
and tranquillity. "For how few years have I left!" he cried. "That," 
I said, "you will not do; but the moment the scent of Rome is in 
your nostrils, you will forget it all; and if you can but gain ad- 
mission to Court, you will be glad enough to elbow your way in, 
and thank God for it." "Epictetus," he replied, "if ever you find me 
setting as much as one foot within the Court, think what you will 
of me." 

Well, as it was, what did he do.? Ere ever he entered the city, he 
was met by a despatch from the Emperor. He took it, and forgot the 
whole of his resolutions. From that moment, he has been piling 
one thing upon another. I should like to be beside him to remind 
him of what he said when passing this way, and to add, How much 
better a prophet I am than you! 

What then? do I say man is not made for an active life.? Far from 
it! . . . But there is a great difference between other men's occu- 
pations and ours. ... A glance at theirs will make it clear to you. 
All day long they do nothing but calculate, contrive, consult how to 
wring their profit oiK of food-stuffs, farm-plots and the Uke. . . . 
Whereas, I entreat you to learn what the administration of the 
World is, and what place a Being endowed with reason holds 
therein: to consider what you are yourself, and wherein your Good 
and Evil consists. 



A man asked me to write to Rome on his behalf who, as most 
people thought, had met with misfortune; for having been before 
wealthy and distinguished, he had afterwards lost all and was living 
here. So I wrote about him in a humble style. He however on read- 
ing the letter returned it to me, with the words: "I asked for your 
help, not for your pity. No evil has happened unto me." 


True instruction is this: — to learn to wish that each thing should 
come to pass as it does. And how does it come to pass? As the 
Disposer has disposed it. Now He has disposed that there should be 
summer and winter, and plenty and dearth, and vice and virtue, and 
all such opposites, for the harmony of the whole. 


Have this thought ever present with thee, when thou losest any 
outward thing, what thou gainest in its stead; and if this be the more 
precious, say not, I have suffered loss. 


Concerning the Gods, there are who deny the very existence of the 
Godhead; others say that it exists, but neither bestirs nor concerns 
itself nor has forethought for anything. A third party attribute to it 
existence and forethought, but only for great and heavenly matters, 
not for anything that is on earth. A fourth party admit things on 
earth as well as in heaven, but only in general, and not with respect 
to each individual. A fifth, of whom were Ulysses and Socrates, are 
those that cry: — 

/ move not without Thy l^notvledgel 


Considering all these things, the good and true man submits his 
judgment to Him that administers the Universe, even as good citi- 
zens to the law of the State. And he that is being instructed should 
come thus minded: — How may I in all things follow the Gods; and, 


How may I rest satisfied with the Divine Administration; and, How 
may I become free? For he is free for whom all things come to pass 
according to his will, and whom none can hinder. What then, is 
freedom madness? God forbid. For madness and freedom exist not 

"But I wish all that I desire to come to pass and in the manner that 
I desire." 

— You are mad, you are beside yourself. Know you not that Free- 
dom is a glorious thing and of great worth? But that what I desired 
at random I should wish at random to come to pass, so far from being 
noble, may well be exceeding base. 


You must know that it is no easy thing for a principle to become a 
man's own, unless each day he maintain it and hear it maintained, 
as well as work it out in life. 


You are impatient and hard to please. If alone, you call it solitude: 
if in the company of men, you dub them conspirators and thieves, 
and find fault with your very parents, children, brothers and neigh- 
bours. Whereas when by yourself you should have called it Tran- 
quillity and Freedom: and herein deemed yourself like unto the 
Gods. And when in the company of the many, you should not have 
called it a wearisome crowd and tumult, but an assembly and a tri- 
bunal; and thus accepted all with contentment. 


What then is the chastisement of those who accept it not? To be 
as they are. Is any discontented with being alone? let him be in 
solitude. Is any discontented with his parents? let him be a bad son, 
and lament. Is any discontented with his children ? let him be a bad 
father.— "Throw him into prison!"— What prison ?— Where he is 
already: for he is there against his will; and wherever a man is against 
his will, that to him is a prison. Thus Socrates was not in prison 
since he was there with his own consent. 



Knowest thou what a speck thou art in comparison with the Uni- 
verse? — ^That is, with respect to the body; since with respect to Rea- 
son, thou art not inferior to the Gods, nor less than they. For the 
greatness of Reason is not measured by length or height, but by the 
resolves of the mind. Place then thy happiness in that wherein thou 
art equal to the Gods. 


Asked how a man might eat acceptably to the Gods, Epictetus 
replied: — If when he eats, he can be just, cheerful, equable, temper- 
ate, and orderly, can he not thus eat acceptably to the Gods? But 
when you call for warm water, and your slave does not answer, or 
when he answers brings it lukewarm, or is not even found to be in 
the house at all, then not to be vexed nor burst with anger, is not 
that acceptable to the Gods ? 

"But how can one endure such people?" 

Slave, will you not endure your own brother, that has God to his 
forefather, even as a son sprung from the same stock, and of the same 
high descent as yourself? And if you are stationed in a high position, 
are you therefore forthwith to set up for a tyrant ? Remember who 
you are, and whom you rule, that they are by nature your kinsmen, 
your brothers, the offspring of God. 

"But I paid a price for them, not they for me." 

Do you see whither you are looking — down to the earth, to the 
pit, to those despicable laws of the dead? But to the laws of the 
Gods you do not look. 


When we are invited to a banquet, we take what is set before us; 
and were one to call upon his host to set fish upon the table or sweet 
things, he would be deemed absurd. Yet in a word, we ask the 
Gods for what they do not give; and that, although they have given 
us so many things! 



Asked how a man might convince himself that every single act 
of his was under the eye of God, Epictetus answered : — 

"Do you not hold that all things are bound together in one?" 

"I do." 

"Well, and do you not hold that things on earth and things in 
heaven are continuous and in unison with each other?" 

"I do," was the reply. 

"Else how should the trees so regularly, as though by God's com- 
mand, at His bidding flower; at His bidding send forth shoots, bear 
fruit and ripen it; at His bidding let it fall and shed their leaves, and 
folded up upon themselves lie in quietness and rest? How else, as 
the Moon waxes and wanes, as the Sun approaches and recedes, can 
it be that such vicissitude and alternation is seen in earthly things? 

"If then all things that grow, nay, our own bodies, are thus bound 
up with the whole, is not this still truer of our souls? And if our 
souls are bound up and in contact with God, as being very parts and 
fragments plucked from Himself, shall He not feel every movement 
of theirs as though it were His own, and belonging to His own 


"But," you say, "I cannot comprehend all this at once." 
"Why, who told you that your powers were equal to God's?" 
Yet God hath placed by the side of each a man's own Guardian 
Spirit,* who is charged to watch over him — a Guardian who sleeps 
not nor is deceived. For to what better or more watchful Guardian 
could He have committed each of us? So when you have shut the 
doors and made a darkness within, remember never to say that you 
are alone; for you are not alone, but God is within, and your Guard- 
ian Spirit, and what light do they need to behold what you do? To 
this God you also should have sworn allegiance, even as soldiers 
unto Cxsar. They, when their service is hired, swear to hold the life 
of Caesar dearer than all else: and will you not swear your oath, that 
are deemed worthy of so many and great gifts? And will you not 
* To the Stoio the Guardian Spirit was each man's Reason. 


keep your oath when you have sworn it? And what oath will you 
swear? Never to disobey, never to arraign or murmur at aught that 
comes to you from His hand: never unwiUingly to do or suffer aught 
that necessity lays upon you. 

"Is this oath like theirs?" 

They swear to hold no other dearer than Cssar: you, to hold our 
true selves dearer than all else beside. 


"How shall my brother cease to be wroth with me?" 
Bring him to me, and I will tell him. But to thee I have nothing to 
say about his anger. 


When one took counsel of Epictetus, saying, "What I seek is this, 
how even though my brother be not reconciled to me, I may still re- 
main as Nature would have me to be," he replied : "All great things 
are slow of growth; nay, this is true even of a grape or of a fig. If 
then you say to me now, I desire a fig, I shall answer. It needs time: 
wait till it first flower, then cast its blossom, then ripen. Whereas 
then the fruit of the fig-tree reaches not maturity suddenly nor yet in 
a single hour, do you nevertheless desire so quickly and easily to 
reap the fruit of the mind of man ? — ^Nay, expect it not, even though 
I bade you!" 


Epaphroditus' had a shoemaker whom he sold as being good-for- 
nothing. This fellow, by some accident, was afterwards purchased by 
one of Caesar's men, and became shoemaker to Cxsar. You should 
have seen what respect Epaphroditus paid him then. "How does the 
good FeUcion? Kindly let me know!" And if any of us inquired, 
"What is Epaphroditus doing?" the answer was, "He is consulting 
about so and so with FeUcion." — Had he not sold him as good-for- 
nothing? Who had in a trice converted him into a wiseacre? 

This is what comes of holding of importance anything but the 
things that depend on the Will. 

'A freedman of Nero, and at one time owner of Epictetus. 



What you shun enduring yourself, attempt not to impose on others. 
You shun slavery — beware of enslaving others! If you can endure to 
do that, one would think you had been once upon a time a slave your- 
self. For Vice has nothing in common with virtue, nor Freedom with 



Has a man been raised to the tribuneship? Every one that he 
meets congratulates him. One kisses him on the eyes, another on the 
neck, while the slaves kiss his hands. He goes home to find 
torches burning; he ascends to the Capitol to sacrifice. — Who ever 
sacrificed for having had right desires; for having conceived such in- 
clinations as Nature would have him ? In truth we thank the Gods 
for that wherein we place our happiness. 


A man was talking to me to-day about the priesthood of Augustus. 
I said to him, "Let the thing go, my good Sir; you will spend a great 
deal to no purpose." 

"Well, but my name will be inserted in all documents and 

"Will you be standing there to tell those that read them, That is 
my name written there.'' And even though you could now be there 
in every case, what will you do when you are dead."*" 

"At all events my name will remain." 

"Inscribe it on a stone and it will remain just as well. And think, 
beyond Nicopolis what memory of you will there be.''" 

"But I shall have a golden wreath to wear." 

"If you must have a wreath, get a wreath of roses and put it on; 
you will look more elegant!" 


Above all, remember that the door stands open. Be not more fear- 
ful than children; but as they, when they weary of the game, cry, 
"I will play no more," even so, when thou art in the hke case, cry. 


"I will play no more," and depart. But if thou stayest, make no lam- 


Is there smoke in the room? If it be slight, I remain; if grievous, 
I quit it. For you must remember this and hold it fast, that the door 
stands open. 

"You shall not dwell at Nicopolis!" 

Well and good. 

"Nor at Athens." 

Then I will not dwell at Athens either. 

"Nor at Rome." 

Nor at Rome either. 

"You shall dwell in Gyara!"* 

Well: but to dwell in Gyara seems to me like a grievous smoke; 
I depart to a place where none can forbid me to dwell : that habitation 
is open unto all! As for the last garment of all, that is the poor body; 
beyond that, none can do aught unto me. This is why Demetrius' 
said to Nero: "You threaten me with death; it is Nature who threat- 
ens you!" 


The beginning of philosophy is to know the condition of one's 
own mind. If a man recognises that this is in a weakly state, he will 
not then want to apply it to questions of the greatest moment. As 
it is, men who are not fit to swallow even a morsel, buy whole trea- 
tises and try to devour them. Accordingly they either vomit them 
up again, or suffer from indigestion, whence come gripings, fluxions, 
and fevers. Whereas they should have stopped to consider their 


In theory it is easy to convince an ignorant person: in actual life, 
men not only object to offer themselves to be convinced, but hate the 
man who has convinced them. Whereas Socrates used to say that we 
should never lead a life not subjected to examination. 

'An island in the ^gean, used as a place of banishment. 
'A well-known Cynic philosopher. 



This is the reason why Socrates, when reminded that he should 
prepare for his trial, answered : "Thinkest thou not that I have been 
preparing for it all my life?" 

"In what way?" 

"I have maintained that which in me lay." 

"How so?" 

"I have never, secredy or openly, done a wrong unto any." 


In what character dost thou now come forward? 

As a witness summoned by God. "Come thou," saith God, "and 
testify for Me, for thou art worthy of being brought forward as a wit- 
ness by Me. Is aught that is outside thy will either good or bad ? Do 
I hurt any man? Have I placed the good of each in the power of 
any other than himself? What witness dost thou bear to God?" 

"I am in evil state, Master, I am undone! None careth for me, 
none giveth me aught: all men blame, all speak evil of me." 

Is this the witness thou wilt bear, and do dishonour to the calling 
wherewith He hath called thee, because He hath done thee so great 
honour, and deemed thee worthy of being summoned to bear witness 
in so great a cause ? 


Wouldst thou have men speak good of thee ? speak good of them. 
And when thou hast learned to speak good of them, try to do good 
unto them, and thus thou wilt reap in return their speaking good of 


When thou goest in to any of the great, remember that Another 
from above sees what is passing, and that thou shouldst please Him 
rather than man. He therefore asks thee: — 

"In the Schools, what didst thou call exile, imprisonment, bonds, 
death and shame?" 

"I called them things indifferent." 

"What then dost thou call them now? Are they at all changed?" 



"Is it then thou that art changed ?" 

"Say then, what are things indifferent?" 
"Things that are not in our power." 
"Say then, what follows.'" 

"That things which are not in our power are nothing to me." 
"Say also what things you hold to be good." 
"A will such as it ought to be, and a right use of the things of 
"And what is the end?" 
"To foUow Thee!" 


"That Socrates should ever have been so treated by the Athenians!" 

Slave! why say "Socrates"? Speak of the thing as it is: That ever 
then the poor body of Socrates should have been dragged away and 
haled by main force to prison ! That ever hemlock should have been 
given to the body of Socrates; that that should have breathed its life 
away! — Do you marvel at this? Do you hold this unjust? Is it for 
this that you accuse God? Had Socrates no compensation for this? 
Where then for him was the ideal Good ? Whom shall we hearken 
to, you or him ? And what says he ? 

"Anytus and Meletus' may put me to death: to injure me is beyond 
their power." 

And again: — 

"If such be the will of God, so let it be." 


Nay, young man, for heaven's sake; but once thou hast heard these 
words, go home and say to thyself: — "It is not Epictetus that has told 
me these things: how indeed should he? No, it is some gracious God 
through him. Else it would never have entered his head to tell me 
them — he that is not used to speak to any one thus. Well, then, let 
us not lie under the wrath of God, but be obedient unto Him." — Nay, 
indeed; but if a raven by its croaking bears thee any sign, it is not the 
* The accusers of Socrates. See Plato's Apology. 


raven but God that sends the sign through the raven; and if He sig- 
nifies anything to thee through human voice, will He not cause the 
man to say these words to thee, that thou mayest know the power of 
the Divine — how He sends a sign to some in one way and to others 
in another, and on the greatest and highest matters of all signifies His 
will through the noblest messenger ? 
What else does the poet mean: — 

I spake unto him erst Myself, and sent 

Hermes the shining One, to check and warn him, 

The husband not to slay, nor woo the wife! 


In the same way my friend Heraclitus, who had a trifling suit about 
a petty farm at Rhodes, first showed the judges that his cause was 
just, and then at the finish cried, "I will not entreat you: nor do I 
care what sentence you pass. It is you who are on your trial, not I!" — 
And so he ended the case.' 


As for us, we behave like a herd of deer. When they flee from the 
huntsman's feathers'" in affright, which way do they turn? What 
haven of safety do they make for? Why, they rush upon the nets! 
And thus they perish by confounding what they should fear with that 
wherein no danger lies. . . . Not death or pain is to be feared, but 
the jear of death or pain. Well said the poet therefore: — 

Death has no terror; only a Death of shame! 


How is it then that certain external things are said to be natural, 
and others contrary to Nature? 

Why, just as it might be said if we stood alone and apart from 
others. A foot, for instance, I will allow it is natural should be clean. 
But if you take it as a foot, and as a thing which does not stand by 
itself, it will beseem it (if need be) to walk in the mud, to tread on 
thorns, and sometimes even to be cut off, for the benefit of the whole 

'Or, "And so he lost his case" (Long). 

" Colored feathers fixed to ropes partly surrounding the cover. 


body; else it is no longer a foot. In some such way we should con- 
ceive of ourselves also. What art thou? — A man. — Looked at as 
standing by thyself and separate, it is natural for thee in health 
and wealth long to live. But looked at as a Man, and only as a part 
of a Whole, it is for that Whole's sake that thou shouldst at one time 
fall sick, at another brave the perils of the sea, again, know the mean- 
ing of want and perhaps die an early death. Why then repine? 
Knowest thou not that as the foot is no more a foot if detached from 
the body, so thou in like case art no longer a Man? For what is a 
Man? A part of a City: — first, of the City of Gods and Men; next, 
of that which ranks nearest it, a miniature of the universal City. 
... In such a body, in such a world enveloping us, among lives like 
these, such things must happen to one or another. Thy part, then, 
being here, is to speak of these things as is meet, and to order them 
as befits the matter. 


That was a good reply which Diogenes made to a man who asked 
him for letters of recommendation. — "That you are a man, he will 
know when he sees you; — whether a good or bad one, he will know 
if he has any skill in discerning the good and the bad. But if he has 
none, he will never know, though I write to him a thousand times." 
— It is as though a piece of silver money desired to be recommended 
to some one to be tested. If the man be a good judge of silver, he will 
know: the coin will tell its own tale. 


Even as the traveller asks his way of him that he meets, inclined in 
no wise to bear to the right rather than to the left (for he desires only 
the way leading whither he would go), so should we come unto God 
as to a guide; even as we use our eyes without admonishing them 
to show us some things rather than others, but content to receive the 
images of such things as they present unto us. But as it is we stand 
anxiously watching the victim, and with the voice of supplication call 
upon the augur: — "Master, have mercy on me: vouchsafe unto me a 
way of escape!" Slave, would you then have aught else than what is 
best? is there anything better than what is God's good pleasure? 


Why, as far as in you lies, would you corrupt your Judge, and lead 
your Counsellor astray? 


God is beneficent. But the Good also is beneficent. It should 
seem then that where the real nature of God is, there too is to be 
found the real nature of the Good. What then is the real nature of 
God? — Intelligence, Knowledge, Right Reason. Here then without 
more ado seek the real nature of the Good. For surely thou dost 
not seek it in a plant or in an animal that reasoneth not. 


Seek then the real nature of the Good in that without whose 
presence thou wilt not admit the Good to exist in aught else. — What 
then? Are not these other things also works of God? — They are; 
but not preferred to 'honour, nor are they portions of God. But 
thou art a thing preferred to honour: thou art thyself a fragment torn 
from God: — thou hast a portion of Him within thyself. How is it 
then that thou dost not know thy high descent — dost not know 
whence thou comest? When thou eatest, wilt thou not remember 
who thou art that eatest and whom thou feedest? In intercourse, in 
exercise, in discussion knowest thou not that it is a God whom thou 
feedest, a God whom thou exercisest, a God whom thou bearest 
about with thee, O miserable! and thou perceivest it not. Thinkest 
thou that I speak of a God of silver or gold, that is without thee? 
Nay, thou bearest Him within thee! all unconscious of polluting 
Him with thoughts impure and unclean deeds. Were an image of 
God present, thou wouldst not dare to act as thou dost, yet, when God 
Himself is present within thee, beholding and hearing all, thou dost 
not blush to think such thoughts and do such deeds, O thou that art 
insensible of thine own nature and liest under the wrath of God! 


Why then are we afraid when we send a young man from the 
Schools into active life, lest he should indulge his appetites intemper- 
ately, lest he should debase himself by ragged clothing, or be puffed 
up by fine raiment? Knows he not the God within him; knows he 


not with whom he is starting on his way ? Have we patience to hear 
him say to us, Would I had thee with me! — Hast thou not God where 
thou art, and having Him dost thou still seek for any other? Would 
He tell thee aught else than these things? Why, wert thou a statue 
of Phidias, an Athena or a Zeus, thou wouldst bethink thee both of 
thyself and thine artificer; and hadst thou any sense, thou wouldst 
strive to do no dishonour to thyself or him that fashioned thee, nor ap- 
pear to beholders in unbefitting guise. But now, because God is thy 
Maker, is that why thou carest not of what sort thou shalt show thy- 
self to be? Yet how different the artists and their workmanship! 
What human artist's work, for example, has in it the faculties that 
are displayed in fashioning it? Is it aught but marble, bronze, gold, 
or ivory? Nay, when the Athena of Phidias has put forth her hand 
and received therein a Victory, in that attitude she stands for ever- 
more. But God's works move and breathe; they use and judge the 
things of sense. The workmanship of such an Artist, wilt thou dis- 
honour Him ? Aye, when he not only fashioned thee, but placed thee, 
like a ward, in the care and guardianship of thyself alone, wilt thou 
not only forget this, but also do dishonour to what is committed to 
thy care! If God had entrusted thee with an orphan, wouldst thou 
have thus neglected him ? He hath delivered thee to thine own care, 
saying, I had none more faithful than myself: keep this man for me 
such as Nature hath made him — modest, faithful, high-minded, a 
stranger to fear, to passion, to perturbation. . . . 

Such will I show myself to you all. — ^"What, exempt from sickness 
also: from age, from death?" — Nay, but accepting sickness, accepting 
death as becomes a God! 


No labour, according to Diogenes, is good but that which aims at 
producing courage and strength of soul rather than of body. 


A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings him back 
to the right path — he does not mock and jeer at him and then take 
himself off. You also must show the unlearned man the truth, and 


you will see that he will follow. But so long as you do not show 
it him, you should not mock, but rather feel your own incapacity. 


It was the first and most striking characteristic of Socrates never 
to become heated in discourse, never to utter an injurious or insult- 
ing word — on the contrary, he persistently bore insult from others 
and thus put an end to the fray. If you care to know the extent of 
his power in this direction, read Xenophon's Banquet, and you will 
see how many quarrels he put an end to. That is why the Poets 
are right in so highly commending this faculty: — 

Quickly and wisely withal even bitter feuds would he setde. 

Nevertheless the practice is not very safe at present, especially in 
Rome. One who adopts it, I need not say, ought not to carry it out 
in an obscure corner, but boldly accost, if occasion serve, some per- 
sonage of rank or wealth. 

"Can you tell me, sir, to whose care you entrust your horses?" 

"I can." 

"Is it to the first comer, who knows nothing about them?" 

"Certainly not." 

"Well, what of the man who takes care of your gold, your silver 
or your raiment?" 

"He must be experienced also." 

"And your body — have you ever considered about entrusting it to 
any one's care?" 

"Of course I have." 

"And no doubt to a person of experience as a trainer, a physician?" 


"Are these things the best you possess, or have you anything more 

"What can you mean?" 

"I mean that which employs these; which weighs all things; which 
takes counsel and resolve." 

"Oh, you mean the soul." 

"You take me rightly; I do mean the soul. By Heaven, I hold 
that far more precious than all else I possess. Can you show me then 


what care you bestow on the soul ? For it can scarcely be thought that 
a man of your wisdom and consideration in the city would suffer 
your most precious possession to go to ruin through carelessness and 

"Certainly not." 

"Well, do you take care of it yourself? Did any one teach you the 
right method, or did you discover it yourself?" 

Now here comes in the danger: first, that the great man may 
answer, "Why, what is that to you, my good fellow? are you my 
master?" And then, if you persist in troubling him, may raise his 
hand to strike you. It is a practice of which I was myself a warm 
admirer until such experiences as these befell me. 


When a youth was giving himself airs in the Theatre and saying, 
"I am wise, for I have conversed with many wise men," Epictetus 
replied, "I too have conversed with many rich men, yet I am not 


We see that a carpenter becomes a carpenter by learning certain 
things: that a pilot, by learning certain things, becomes a pilot. Pos- 
sibly also in the present case the mere desire to be wise and good is 
not enough. It is necessary to learn certain things. This is then the 
object of our search. The Philosophers would have us first learn 
that there is a God, and that His Providence directs the Universe; 
further, that to hide from Him not only one's acts but even one's 
thoughts and intentions is impossible; secondly, what the nature of 
God is. Whatever that nature is discovered to be, the man who 
would please and obey Him must strive with all his might to be 
made like unto Him. If the Divine is faithful, he also must be 
faithful; if free, he also must be free; if beneficent, he also must be 
beneficent; if magnanimous, he also must be magnanimous. Thus 
as an imitator of God must he follow Him in every deed and word. 


If I show you, that you lack just what is most important and neces- 
sary to happiness, that hitherto your attention has been bestowed on 


everything rather than that which claims it most; and, to crown all, 
that you know neither what God nor Man is — neither what Good 
nor Evil is: why, that you are ignorant of everything else, perhaps 
you may bear to be told; but to hear that you know nothing of your- 
self, how could you submit to that? How could you stand your 
ground and suffer that to be proved? Clearly not at all. You in- 
stantly turn away in wrath. Yet what harm have I done you ? Unless 
indeed the mirror harms the ill-favoured man by showing him to 
himself just as he is; unless the physician can be thought to insult his 
patient, when he tells him : — "Friend, do you suppose there is nothing 
wrong with you? why, you have a fever. Eat nothing to-day, and 
drink only water." Yet no one says, "What an insufferable insult!" 
Whereas, if you say to a man, "Your desires are inflamed, your in- 
stincts of rejection are weak and low, your aims are inconsistent, 
your impulses are not in harmony with Nature, your opinions are 
rash and false," he forthwith goes away and complains that you have 
insulted him. 


Our way of life resembles a fair. The flocks and herds are passing 
along to be sold, and the greater part of the crowd to buy and sell. 
But there are some few who come only to look at the fair, to inquire 
how and why it is being held, upon what authority and with what 
object. So too, in this great Fair of life, some, like the catde, trouble 
themselves about nothing but the fodder. Know all of you, who are 
busied about land, slaves and public posts, that these are nothing but 
fodder! Some few there are attending the Fair, who love to con- 
template what the world is, what He that administers it. Can there 
be no Administrator? is it possible, that while neither city nor house- 
hold could endure even for a moment without one to administer 
and see to its welfare, this Fabric, so fair, so vast, should be adminis- 
tered in order so harmonious, without a purpose and by blind 
chance? There is therefore an Administrator. What is His nature 
and how does He administer ? And who are we that are His children 
and what work were we born to perform ? Have we any close con- 
nection or relation with Him or not ? 

Such are the impressions of the few of whom I speak. And further, 


they apply themselves solely to considering and examining the great 
assembly before they depart. Well, they are derided by the multitude. 
So are the lookers-on by the traders: aye, and if the beasts had any 
sense, they would deride those who thought much of anything but 
fodder I 


I think I know now what I never knew before — the meaning of 
the common saying, A fool you can neither bend nor brea^. Pray 
heaven I may never have a wise fool for my friend! There is noth- 
ing more intractable. — "My resolve is fixed!" — Why, so madmen say 
too; but the more firmly they believe in their delusions, the more they 
stand in need of treatment. 


— "Oh! when shall I see Athens and its Acropolis again?" — Miser- 
able man! art thou not contented with the daily sights that meet thine 
eyes? canst thou behold aught greater or nobler than the Sun, Moon, 
and Stars; than the outspread Earth and Sea? If indeed thou appre- 
hendest Him who administers the universe, if thou bearest Him 
about within thee, canst thou still hanker after mere fragments of 
stone and a fine rock? When thou art about to bid farewell to the 
Sun and Moon itself, wilt thou sit down and cry like a child? Why, 
what didst thou hear, what didst thou learn? why didst thou write 
thyself down a philosopher, when thou mightest have written what 
was the fact, namely, "I have made one or two Compendiums, I have 
read some works of Chrysippus, and I have not even touched the 
hem of Philosophy's robe"! 


Friend, lay hold with a desperate grasp, ere it is too late, on 
Freedom, on Tranquillity, on Greatness of soul! Lift up thy head, 
as one escaped from slavery; dare to look up to God, and say: — 
"Deal with me henceforth as Thou wilt; Thou and I are of one 
mind. I am Thine: I refuse nothing that seemeth good to Thee; 
lead on whither Thou wilt; clothe me in what garb Thou pleasest; 
wilt Thou have me a ruler or a subject — at home or in exile — ^poor 


or rich? All these things will I justify unto men for Thee. I will 
show the true nature of each. . . ." 

Who would Hercules have been had he loitered at home? no 
Hercules, but Eurystheus. And in his wanderings through the 
world how many friends and comrades did he find? but nothing 
dearer to him than God. Wherefore he was believed to be God's 
son, as indeed he was. So then in obedience to Him, he went about 
delivering the earth from injustice and lawlessness. 

But thou art not Hercules, thou sayest, and canst not deliver 
others from their iniquity — not even Theseus, to deliver the soil 
of Attica from its monsters? Purge away thine own, cast forth 
thence — from thine own mind, not robbers and monsters, but Fear, 
Desire, Envy, Malignity, Avarice, Effeminacy, Intemperance. And 
these may not be cast out, except by looking to God alone, by fixing 
thy affections on Him only, and by consecrating thyself to His com- 
mands. If thou choosest aught else, with sighs and groans thou 
wilt be forced to follow a Might greater than thine own, ever seeking 
Tranquillity without, and never able to attain unto her. For thou 
seekest her where she is not to be found; and where she is, there 
thou seekest her not! 


If a man would pursue Philosophy, his first task is to throw away 
conceit. For it is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he 
has a conceit that he already knows. 


Give me but one young man, that has come to the School with 
this intention, who stands forth a champion of this cause, and says, 
"All else I renounce, content if I am but able to pass my life free 
from hindrance and trouble; to raise my head aloft and face all 
things as a free man; to look up to heaven as a friend of God, fearing 
nothing that may come to pass!" Point out such a one to me, that 
I may say, "Enter, young man, into possession of that which is thine 
own. For thy lot is to adorn Philosophy. Thine are these possessions; 
thine these books, these discourses!" 


And when our champion has duly exercised himself in this part 
of the subject, I hope he will come back to me and say: — "What I 
desire is to be free from passion and from perturbation; as one who 
grudges no pains in the pursuit of piety and philosophy, what I 
desire is to know my duty to the Gods, my duty to my parents, to 
my brothers, to my country, to strangers." 

"Enter then on the second part of the subject; it is thine also." 

"But I have already mastered the second part; only I wished 
to stand firm and unshaken — as firm when asleep as when awake, 
as firm when elated with wine as in despondency and dejection." 

"Friend, you are verily a God! you cherish great designs." 


"The question at stake," said Epictetus, "is no common one; it 
is this: — Are we in our senses, or are we not?" 


If you have given way to anger, be sure that over and above the 
evil involved therein, you have strengthened the habit, and added 
fuel to the fire. If overcome by a temptation of the flesh, do not 
reckon it a single defeat, but that you have also strengthened your 
dissolute habits. Habits and faculties are necessarily affected by the 
corresponding acts. Those that were not there before, spring up: 
the rest gain in strength and extent. This is the account which 
Philosophers give of the origin of diseases of the mind: — Suppose 
you have once lusted after money: if reason sufficient to produce a 
sense of the evil be applied, then the lust is checked, and the mind 
at once regains its original authority; whereas if you have recourse 
to no remedy, you can no longer look for this return — on the con- 
trary, the next time it is excited by the corresponding object, the 
flame of desire leaps up more quickly than before. By frequent 
repetition, the mind in the long run becomes callous; and thus this 
mental disease produces confirmed Avarice. 

One who has had fever, even when it has left him, is not in the 
same condition of health as before, unless indeed his cure is complete. 
Something of the same sort is true also of diseases of the mind. 
Behind, there remains a legacy of traces and of blisters: and unless 


these are effectually erased, subsequent blows on the same spot will 
produce no longer mere blisters, but sores. If you do not wish to 
be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which 
may tend to its increase. At first, keep quiet and count the days 
when you were not angry : "I used to be angry every day, then every 
other day: next every two, next every three days!" and if you succeed 
in passing thirty days, sacrifice to the Gods in thanksgiving. 


How then may this be attained? — Resolve, now if never before, 
to approve thyself to thyself; resolve to show thyself fair in God's 
sight; long to be pure with thine own pure self and GodI 


That is the true athlete, that trains himself to resist such outward 
impressions as these. 

"Stay, wretched man! suffer not thyself to be carried away!" 
Great is the combat, divine the task! you are fighting for Kingship, 
for Liberty, for Happiness, for Tranquillity. Remember God: call 
upon Him to aid thee, like a comrade that stands beside thee in the 


Who then is a Stoic — in the sense that we call that a statue of 
Phidias which is modelled after that master's art? Show me a man 
in this sense modelled after the doctrines that are ever upon his 
lips. Show me a man that is sick — and happy; in danger — and 
happy; on his death-bed — and happy; an exile — and happy; in evil 
report — and happy! Show me him, I ask again. So help me Heaven, 
I long to see one Stoic! Nay, if you cannot show me one fully 
modelled, let me at least see one in whom the process is at work — 
one whose bent is in that direction. Do me that favour! Grudge 
it not to an old man, to behold a sight that he has never yet beheld. 
Think you I wish to see the Zeus or Athena of Phidias, bedecked 
with gold and ivory? — Nay, show me, one of you, a human soul, 
desiring to be of one mind with God, no more to lay blame on God 
or man, to suffer nothing to disappoint, nothing to cross him, to 


yield neither to anger, envy, nor jealousy — in a word, why disguise 
the matter? one that from a man would fain become a God; one that 
while still imprisoned in this dead body makes fellowship with 
God his aim. Show me him! — Ah, you cannot! Then why moclc 
yourselves and delude others? why stalk about tricked out in other 
men's attire, thieves and robbers that you are of names and things 
to which you can show no title! 


If you have assumed a character beyond your strength, you have 
both played a poor figure in that, and neglected one that is within 
your powers. 


Fellow, you have come to blows at home with a slave: you have 
turned the household upside down, and thrown the neighbourhood 
into confusion; and do you come to me then with airs of assumed 
modesty — do you sit down like a sage and criticise my explanation 
of the readings, and whatever idle babble you say has come into my 
head? Have you come full of envy, and dejected because nothing 
is sent you from home; and while the discussion is going on, do 
you sit brooding on nothing but how your father or your brother 
are disposed towards you: — "What are they saying about me there? 
at this moment they imagine I am making progress and saying, 
He will return perfectly omniscient! I wish I could become omnis- 
cient before I return; but that would be very troublesome. No one 
sends me anything — the baths at Nicopolis are dirty; things are 
wretched at home and wretched here." And then they say, "Nobody 
is any the better for the School." — Who comes to the School with a 
sincere wish to learn: to submit his principles to correction and 
himself to treatment? Who, to gain a sense of his wants? Why 
then be surprised if you carry home from the School exactly what 
you bring into it? 


"Epictetus, I have often come desiring to hear you speak, and 
you have never given me any answer; now if possible, I entreat you, 
say something to me." 


"Is there, do you think," replied Epictetus, "an art of speaking as 
of other things, if it is to be done skilfully and with profit to the 


"And are all profited by what they hear, or only some among 
them? So that it seems there is an art of hearing as well as of 
speaking. ... To make a statue needs skill: to view a statue 
aright needs skill also." 


"And I think all will allow that one who proposes to hear philos- 
ophers speak needs a considerable training in hearing. Is that not 
so? Then tell me on what subject you are able to hear me." 

"Why, on good and evil." 

"The good and evil of what? a horse, an ox?" 

"No; of a man." 

"Do we know then what Man is? what his nature is? what is 
the idea we have of him ? And are our ears practised in any degree 
on the subject? Nay, do you understand what Nature is? can you 
follow me in any degree when I say that I shall have to use demon- 
stration? Do you understand what Demonstration is? what True 
or False is? . . . must I drive you to Philosophy? . . . Show me 
what good I am to do by discoursing with you. Rouse my desire to 
do so. The sight of the pasture it loves stirs in a sheep the desire to 
feed: show it a stone or a bit of bread and it remains unmoved. 
Thus we also have certain natural desires, aye, and one that moves 
us to speak when we find a listener that is worth his salt: one that 
himself stirs the spirit. But if he sits by like a stone or a tuft of 
grass, how can he rouse a man's desire?" 

"Then you will say nothing to me?" 

"I can only tell you this: that one who knows not who he is and 
to what end he was born; what kind of world this is and with 
whom he is associated therein; one who cannot distinguish Good 
and Evil, Beauty and Foulness, . . . Truth and Falsehood, will 
never follow Reason in shaping his desires and impulses and repul- 
sions, nor yet in assent, denial, or suspension of judgment; but will 
in one word go about deaf and blind, thinking himself to be some- 
what, when he is in truth of no account. Is there anything new in 


all this? Is not this ignorance the cause of all the mistakes and 
mischances of men since the human race began ? . . ." 

"This is all I have to say to you, and even this against the grain. 
Why? Because you have not stirred my spirit. For what can I see 
in you to stir me, as a spirited horse will stir a judge of horses? 
Your body? That you maltreat. Your dress? That is luxurious. 
Your behaviour, your look? — Nothing whatever. When you want 
to hear a philosopher, do not say, 'You say nothing to me'; only 
show yourself worthy or fit to hear, and then you will see how you 
will move the speaker." 


And now, when you see brothers apparently good friends and 
living in accord, do not immediately pronounce anything upon their 
friendship, though they should affirm it with an oath, though they 
should declare, "For us to live apart is a thing impossible!" For the 
heart of a bad man is faithless, unprincipled, inconstant: now over- 
powered by one impression, now by another. Ask not the usual 
questions, Were they born of the same parents, reared together, 
and under the same tutor; but ask this only, in what they place 
their real interest — whether in outward things or in the Will. If in 
outward things, call them not friends, any more than faithful, con- 
stant, brave or free: call them not even human beings, if you have 
any sense. . . . But should you hear that these men hold the Good 
to lie only in the Will, only in rightly dealing with the things of 
sense, take no more trouble to inquire whether they are father and 
son or brothers, or comrades of long standing; but, sure of this one 
thing, pronounce as boldly that they are friends as that they are faith- 
ful and just: for where else can Friendship be found than where 
Modesty is, where there is an interchange of things fair and honest, 
and of such only ? 


No man can rob us of our Will — no man can lord it over that! 


When disease and death overtake me, I would fain be found 
engaged in the task of liberating mine own Will from the assaults of 
passion, from hindrance, from resentment, from slavery. 


Thus would I fain be found employed, so that I may say to God, 
"Have I in aught transgressed Thy commands? Have I in aught 
perverted the faculties, the senses, the natural principles that Thou 
didst give me? Have I ever blamed Thee or found fault with 
Thine administration? When it was Thy good pleasure, I fell sick 
— and so did other men : but my will consented. Because it was Thy 
pleasure, I became poor: but my heart rejoiced. No power in the 
State was mine, because Thou wouldst not: such power I never 
desired! Hast Thou ever seen me of more doleful countenance on 
that account? Have I not ever drawn nigh unto Thee with cheer- 
ful look, waiting upon Thy commands, attentive to Thy signals? 
Wilt Thou that I now depart from the great Assembly of men? I 
go: I give Thee all thanks, that Thou hast deemed me worthy to 
take part with Thee in this Assembly: to behold Thy works, to com- 
prehend this Thine administration." 

Such I would were the subject of my thoughts, my pen, my study, 
when death overtakes me. 


Seemeth it nothing to you, never to accuse, never to blame either 
God or Man? to wear ever the same countenance in going forth as 
in coming in? This was the secret of Socrates: yet he never said 
that he knew or taught anything. . . . Who amongst you makes 
this his aim ? Were it indeed so, you would gladly endure sickness, 
hunger, aye, death itself. 


How are we constituted by Nature? To be free, to be noble, to 
be modest (for what other living thing is capable of blushing, or of 
feeling the impression of shame?) and to subordinate pleasure to 
the ends for which Nature designed us, as a handmaid and a min- 
ister, in order to call forth our activity; in order to keep us constant 
to the path prescribed by Nature. 


The husbandman deals with land; physicians and trainers with 
the body; the wise man with his own Mind. 



Which of us does not admire what Lycurgus the Spartan did? 
A young citizen had put out his eye, and been handed over to him 
by the people to be punished at his own discretion. Lycurgus 
abstained from all vengeance, but on the contrary instructed and 
made a good man of him. Producing him in public in the theatre, 
he said to the astonished Spartans: — "I received this young man 
at your hands full of violence and wanton insolence; I restore him 
to you in his right mind and fit to serve his country." 


A money-changer may not reject Caesar's coin, nor may the seller 
of herbs, but must when once the coin is shown, deliver what is sold 
for it, whether he will or no. So is it also with the Soul. Once the 
Good appears, it attracts towards itself; evil repels. But a clear and 
certain impression of the Good the Soul will never reject, any more 
than men do Caesar's coin. On this hangs every impulse alike of 
Man and God. 


Asked what Common Sense was, Epictetus replied : — 
As that may be called a Common Ear which distinguishes only 
sounds, while that which distinguishes musical notes is not common 
but produced by training; so there are certain things which men not 
entirely perverted see by the natural principles common to all. Such 
a constitution of the Mind is called Common Sense. 


Canst thou judge men? . . . then make us imitators of thyself, 
as Socrates did. Do this, do not do that, else will I cast thee into 
prison; this is not governing men like reasonable creatures. Say 
rather, As God hath ordained, so do; else thou wilt suffer chastise- 
ment and loss. Askest thou what loss? None other than this: To 
have left undone what thou shouldst have done: to have lost the 
faithfulness, the reverence, the modesty that is in thee! Greater loss 
than this seek not to find! 



"His son is dead." 

What has happened? 

"His son is dead." 

Nothing more? 


"His ship is lost." 

What has happened ? 

"His ship is lost." 

"He has been haled to prison." 

What has happened ? 

"He has been haled to prison." 

But that any of these things are misfortunes to him, is an addition 
which every one makes of his own. But (you say) God is unjust 
in this. — Why? For having given thee endurance and greatness of 
soul? For having made such things to be no evils? For placing 
happiness within thy reach, even when enduring them? For open- 
ing unto thee a door, when things make not for thy good? — ^Depart, 
my friend, and find fault no more! 


You are sailing to Rome (you tell me) to obtain the post of 
Governor of Gnossus." You are not content to stay at home with 
the honours you had before; you want something on a larger scale, 
and more conspicuous. But when did you ever undertake a voyage 
for the purpose of reviewing your own principles and getting rid of 
any of them that proved unsound? Whom did you ever visit for 
that object? What time did you ever set yourself for that? What 
age? Run over the times of your life — by yourself, if you are 
ashamed before me. Did you examine your principles when a boy ? 
Did you not do everything just as you do now? Or when you were 
a stripling, attending the school of oratory and practising the art 
yourself, what did you ever imagine you lacked? And when you 
were a young man, entered upon public life, and were pleading 
causes and making a name, who any longer seemed equal to you? 

" In Crete. 


And at what moment would you have endured another examining 
your principles and proving that they were unsound ? What then am 
I to say to you? "Help me in this matter!" you cry. Ah, for that I 
have no rule! And neither did you, if that was your object, come 
to me as a philosopher, but as you might have gone to a herb-seller 
or a cobbler. — "What do philosophers have rules for, then?" — Why, 
that whatever may betide, our ruling faculty may be as Nature 
would have it, and so remain. Think you this a small matter ? Not 
so! but the greatest thing there is. Well, does it need but a short 
time? Can it be grasped by a passer-by i* — grasp it, if you can! 

Then you will say, "Yes, I met Epictetus!" 

Aye, just as you might a statue or a monument. You saw me! 
and that is all. But a man who meets a man is one who learns the 
other's mind, and lets him see his in turn. Learn my mind — show 
me yours; and then go and say that you met me. Let us try each 
other; if I have any wrong principle, rid me of it; if you have, out 
with it. That is what meeting a philosopher means. Not so, you 
think; this is only a flying visit; while we are hiring the ship, we 
can see Epictetus too! Let us see what he has to say. Then on leav- 
ing you cry, "Out on Epictetus for a worthless fellow, provincial 
and barbarous of speech!" What else indeed did you come to 
judge of? 


Whether you will or no, you are poorer than II 

"What then do I lack?" 

What you have not: Constancy of mind, such as Nature would 
have it to be: Tranquillity. Patron or no patron, what care I? but 
you do care. I am richer than you : I am not racked with anxiety as 
to what Caesar may think of me; I flatter none on that account. This 
is what I have, instead of vessels of gold and silver! your vessels may 
be of gold, but your reason, your principles, your accepted views, 
your inclinations, your desires are of earthenware. 


To you, all you have seems small: to me, all I have seems great. 
Your desire is insatiable, mine is satisfied. See children thrusting 


their hands into a narrow-necked jar, and striving to pull out the 
nuts and Bgs it contains: if they BIl the hand, they cannot pull it 
out again, and then they fall to tears. — "Let go a few of them, and 
then you can draw out the rest!" — You, too, let your desire go! 
covet not many things, and you will obtain. 


Pittacus," wronged by one whom he had it in his power to 
punish, let him go free, saying, Forgiveness is better than revenge. 
The one shows native gentleness, the other savagery. 


"My brother ought not to have treated me thus." 
True: but he must see to that. However he may treat me, I must 
deal rightly by him. This is what lies with me, what none can hinder. 


Nevertheless a man should also be prepared to be sufficient unto 
himself — to dwell with himself alone, even as God dwells with 
Himself alone, shares His repose with none, and considers the 
nature of His own administration, intent upon such thoughts as 
are meet unto Himself. So should we also be able to converse with 
ourselves, to need none else beside, to sigh for no distraction, to 
bend our thoughts upon the Divine Administration, and how we 
stand related to all else; to observe how human accidents touched 
us of old, and how they touch us now; what things they are that 
still have power to hurt us, and how they may be cured or removed; 
to perfect what needs perfecting as Reason would direct. 


If a man has frequent intercourse with others, either in the way 
of conversation, entertainment, or simple familiarity, he must either 
become like them, or change them to his own fashion. A live coal 
placed next a dead one will either kindle that or be quenched by it. 
Such being the risk, it is well to be cautious in admitting intimacies 

"One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. He ruled Mytilene in Lesbos in the 
leventh century B.C. 


of this sort, remembering that one cannot rub shoulders with a soot- 
stained man without sharing the soot oneself. What will you do, 
supposing the talk turns on gladiators, or horses, or prize-fighters, 
or (what is worse) on persons, condemning this and that, approving 
the other ? Or suppose a man sneers or jeers or shows a malignant 
temper ? Has any among us the skill of the lute-player, who knows 
at the first touch which strings are out of tune and sets the instru- 
ment right: has any of you such a power as Socrates had, in all his 
intercourse with men, of winning them over to his own convictions? 
Nay, but yon must needs be swayed hither and thither by the un- 
instructed. How comes it then that they prove so much stronger 
than you ? Because they speak from the fulness of the heart — their 
low, corrupt views are their real convictions: whereas your fine senti- 
ments are but from the lips, outwards; that is why they are so nerve- 
less and dead. It turns one's stomach to listen to your exhortations, 
and hear of your miserable Virtue, that you prate of up and down. 
Thus it is that the Vulgar prove too strong for you. Everywhere 
strength, everywhere victory waits your conviction! 


In general, any methods of discipline applied to the body which 
tend to modify its desires or repulsions, are good — for ascetic ends. 
But if done for display, they betray at once a man who keeps an 
eye on outward show; who has an ulterior purpose, and is looking 
for spectators to shout, "Oh what a great man!" This is why 
ApoUonius so well said: "If you are bent upon a litde private 
discipline, wait till you are choking with heat some day — then take 
a mouthful of cold water, and spit it out again, and tell no man!" 


Study how to give as one that is sick: that thou mayest hereafter 
give as one that is whole. Fast; drink water only; abstain altogether 
from desire, that thou mayest hereafter conform thy desire to 


Thou wouldst do good unto men ? then show them by thine own 
example what kind of men philosophy can make, and cease from 


foolish trifling. Eating, do good to them that eat with thee; drink- 
ing, to them that drink with thee; yield unto all, give way, and bear 
with them. Thus shalt thou do them good: but vent not upon them 
thine own evil humour! 


Even as bad actors cannot sing alone, but only in chorus: so some 
cannot walk alone. 

Man, if thou art aught, strive to walk alone and hold converse 
with thyself, instead of skulking in the chorus! at length think; look 
around thee; bestir thyself, that thou mayest know who thou art! 


You would fain be victor at the Olympic games, you say. Yes, 
but weigh the conditions, weigh the consequences; then and then 
only, lay to your hand — if it be for your profit. You must live by 
rule, submit to diet, abstain from dainty meats, exercise your body 
perforce at stated hours, in heat or in cold; drink no cold water, 
nor, it may be, wine. In a word, you must surrender yourself 
wholly to your trainer, as though to a physician. 

Then in the hour of contest, you will have to delve the ground, 
it may chance dislocate an arm, sprain an ankle, gulp down abund- 
ance of yellow sand, be scourged with the whip — and with all this 
sometimes lose the victory. Count the cost — and then, if your desire 
still holds, try the wrestler's life. Else let me tell you that you will 
be behaving like a pack of children playing now at wrestlers, now 
at gladiators; presently falling to trumpeting and anon to stage- 
playing, when the fancy takes them for what they have seen. And 
you are even the same : wrestler, gladiator, philosopher, orator all by 
turns and none of them with your whole soul. Like an ape, you 
mimic what you see, to one thing constant never; the thing that is 
familiar charms no more. This is because you never undertook aught 
with due consideration, nor after strictly testing and viewing it from 
every side; no, your choice was thoughtless; the glow of your desire 
had waxed cold. . . . 

Friend, bethink you first what it is that you would do, and then 
what your own nature is able to bear. Would you be a wrestler, con- 


sider your shoulders, your thighs, your loins — not all men are formed 
to the same end. Think you to be a philosopher while acting as you 
do? think you to go on thus eating, thus drinking, giving way in 
like manner to wrath and to displeasure? Nay, you must watch, you 
must labour; overcome certain desires; quit your familiar friends, 
submit to be despised by your slave, to be held in derision by them 
that meet you, to take the lower place in all things, in office, in 
positions of authority, in courts of law. 

Weigh these things fully, and then, if you will, lay to your hand; 
if as the price of these things you would gain Freedom, Tranquillity, 
and passionless Serenity. 

He that hath no musical instruction is a child in Music; he that 
hath no letters is a child in Learning; he that is untaught is a child 
in Life. 


Can any profit be derived from these men? Aye, from all. 

"What, even from a reviler?" 

Why, tell me what profit a wrestler gains from him who exercises 
him beforehand? The very greatest: he trains me in the practice of 
endurance, of controlling my temper, of gentle ways. You deny it. 
What, the man who lays hold of my neck, and disciplines loins and 
shoulders, does me good, . . . while he that trains me to keep my 
temper does me none? This is what it means, not knowing how to 
gain advantage from men! Is my neighbour bad? Bad to himself, 
but good to me: he brings my good temper, my gentleness into 
play. Is my father bad? Bad to himself, but good to me. This is 
the rod of Hermes; touch what you will with it, they say, and it 
becomes gold. Nay, but bring what you will and I will transmute 
it into Good. Bring sickness, bring death, bring poverty and re- 
proach, bring trial for life — all these things through the rod of 
Hermes shall be turned to profit. 


Till then these sound opinions have taken firm root in you, and 
you have gained a measure of strength for your security, I counsel 


you to be cautious in associating with the uninstructed. Else what- 
ever impressions you receive upon the tablets of your mind in the 
School will day by day melt and disappear, like wax in the sun. 
Withdraw then somewhere far from the sun, while you have these 
waxen sentiments. 


We must approach this matter in a different way; it is great and 
mystical: it is no common thing; nor given to every man. Wisdom 
alone, it may be, will not suffice for the care of youth: a man needs 
also a certain measure of readiness — an aptitude for the office; aye, 
and certain bodily qualities; and above all, to be counselled of God 
Himself to undertake this post; even as He counselled Socrates to 
fill the post of one who confutes error, assigning to Diogenes" the 
royal office of high reproof, and to Zeno'* that of positive instruc- 
tion. Whereas you would fain set up for a physician provided with 
nothing but drugs! Where and how they should be applied you 
neither know nor care. 


If what charms you is nothing but abstract principles, sit down 
and turn them over quietly in your mind: but never dub yourself 
a Philosopher, nor suffer others to call you so. Say rather: He is 
in error; for my desires, my impulses are unaltered. I give in my 
adhesion to what 1 did before; nor has my mode of dealing with 
the things of sense undergone any change. 


When a friend inclined to Cynic views asked Epictetus, what 
sort of person a true Cynic should be, requesting a general sketch of 
the system, he answered: — "We will consider that at leisure. At 
present I content myself with saying this much: If a man put his 
hand to so weighty a matter without God, the wrath of God abides 
upon him. That which he covets will but bring upon him public 
shame. Not even on finding himself in a wellnardered house does 

" The well-known Cynic philosopher. 
" Founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. 


a man step forward and say to himself, I must be master here! Else 
the lord of that house takes notice of it, and, seeing him insolently 
giving orders, drags him forth and chastises him. So it is also in 
this great City, the World. Here also is there a Lord of the House, 
who orders all things: — 

"Thou art the Sun! in thine orbit thou hast potver to ma1{e the year and 
the seasons; to bid the fruits of the earth grow and increase, the 
tvinds arise and fall; thou canst in due measure cherish tvith thy 
tvarmth the frames of men; go mal^e thy circuit, and thus minister 
unto all from the greatest to the least! . . . 

"Thou canst lead a host against Troy; be Agamemnon! 

"Thou canst meet Hector in single combat; be Achilles! 

"But had Thersites stepped forward and claimed the chief com- 
mand, he had been met with a refusal, or obtained it only to his 
own shame and confusion of face, before a cloud of witnesses." 


Others may fence themselves with walls and houses, when they 
do such deeds as these, and wrap themselves in darkness — aye, they 
have many a device to hide themselves. Another may shut his door 
and station one before his chamber to say, if any comes. He ha^ 
gone forth! he is not at leisure! But the true Cynic will have none 
of these things; instead of them, he must wrap himself in Modesty: 
else he will but bring himself to shame, naked and under the open 
sky. That is his house; that is his door; that is the slave that guards 
his chamber; that is his darkness! 


Death? let it come when it will, whether it smite but a part or 
the whole: Fly, you tell me — fly! But whither shall I fly? Can any 
man cast me beyond the limits of the World? It may not be! And 
whithersoever I go, there shall I still find Sun, Moon, and Stars; 
there shall I find dreams, and omens, and converse with the Gods! 


Furthermore the true Cynic must know that he is sent as a Mes- 
senger from God to men, to show unto them that as touching good 


and evil they are in error; looking for these where they are not to 
be found, nor ever bethinking themselves where they are. And like 
Diogenes when brought before Philip after the battle of Chxronea, 
the Cynic must remember that he is a Spy. For a Spy he really is — 
to bring back word what things are on Man's side, and what against 
him. And when he has diligently observed all, he must come back 
with a true report, not terrified into announcing them to be foes 
that are no foes, nor otherwise perturbed or confounded by the 
things of sense. 


How can it be that one who hath nothing, neither raiment, nor 
house, nor home, nor bodily tendance, nor servant, nor city, should 
yet live tranquil and contented? Behold God hath sent you a man 
to show you in act and deed that it may be so. Behold me! I have 
neither city nor house nor possessions nor servants: the ground is 
my couch; I have no wife, no children, no shelter — nothing but 
earth and sky, and one poor cloak. And what lack I yet? am I not 
untouched by sorrow, by fear? am I not free? . . . when have I 
laid anything to the charge of God or Man? when have I accused 
any? hath any of you seen me with a sorrowful countenance? And 
in what wise treat I those of whom you stand in fear and awe? Is 
it not as slaves? Who when he seeth me doth not think that he 
beholdeth his Master and his King? 


Give thyself more diligently to reflection: know thyself: take 
counsel with the Godhead: without God put thine hand unto 


"But to marry and to rear offspring," said the young man, "will 
the Cynic hold himself bound to undertake this as a chief duty?" 

Grant me a republic of wise men, answered Epictetus, and perhaps 
none will lightly take the Cynic life upon him. For on whose account 
should he embrace that method of life? Suppose however that he 
does, there will then be nothing to hinder his marrying and rearing 
offspring. For his wife will be even such another as himself, and 


likewise her father; and in Uke manner will his children be 
brought up. 

But in the present condition of things, which resembles an Army 
in battle array, ought not the Cynic to be free from all distraction 
and given wholly to the service of God, so that he can go in and out 
among men, neither fettered by the duties nor entangled by the rela- 
tions of common life ? For if he transgress them, he will forfeit the 
character of a good man and true; whereas if he observe them, there 
is an end of him as the Messenger, the Spy, the Herald of the Gods! 


Ask me if you choose if a Cynic shall engage in the administration 
of the State. O fool, seek you a nobler administration than that in 
which he is engaged ? Ask you if a man shall come forward in the 
Athenian assembly and talk about revenue and suppUes, when his 
business is to converse with all men, Athenians, Corinthians, and 
Romans alike, not about supplies, not about revenue, nor yet peace 
and war, but about Happiness and Misery, Prosperity and Adversity, 
Slavery and Freedom ? 

Ask you whether a man shall engage in the administration of the 
State who has engaged in such an Administration as this? Ask me 
too if he shall govern; and again I will answer. Fool, what greater 
government shall he hold than that he holds already? 


Such a man needs also to have a certain habit of body. If he 
appear consumptive, thin and pale, his testimony has no longer the 
same authority. He must not only prove to the unlearned by show- 
ing them what his Soul is that it is possible to be a good man apart 
from all that they admire; but he must also show them, by his 
body, that a plain and simple manner of life under the open sky does 
no harm to the body either. "See, I am a proof of this! and my body 
also." As Diogenes used to do, who went about fresh of look and 
by the very appearance of his body drew men's eyes. But if a Cynic 
is an object of pity, he seems a mere beggar; all turn away, all are 
offended at him. Nor should he be slovenly of look, so as not to 


scare men from him in this way either; on the contrary, his very 
roughness should be clean and attractive. 


Kings and tyrants have armed guards wherewdth to chastise 
certain persons, though they be themselves evil. But to the Cynic 
conscience gives this power — not arms and guards. When he knows 
that he has watched and laboured on behalf of mankind: that sleep 
hath found him pure, and left him purer still: that his thoughts have 
been the thought of a Friend of the Gods — of a servant, yet of one 
that hath a part in the government of the Supreme God: that the 
words are ever on his lips: — 

Lead me, God, and thou, O Destinyl 

as well as these: — 

// this be God's will, so let it be! 

why should he not speak boldly unto his own brethren, unto his 
children — in a word, unto all that are akin to him I 


Does a Philosopher apply to people to come and hear him ? does 
he not rather, of his own nature, attract those that will be benefited 
by him — like the sun that warms, the food that sustains them ? What 
Physician applies to men to come and be healed? (Though indeed 
I hear that the Physicians at Rome do nowadays apply for patients 
— in my time they were applied to.) I apply to you to come and 
hear that you are in evil case; that what deserves your attention most 
is the last thing to gain it; that you know not good from evil, and 
are in short a hapless wretch; a fine way to apply! though unless the 
words of the Philosopher affect you thus, speaker and speech are 
alike dead. 


A Philosopher's school is a Surgery: pain, not pleasure, you should 
have felt therein. For on entering none of you is whole. One has 
a shoulder out of joint, another an abscess: a third suffers from an 


issue, a fourth from pains in the head. And am I then to sit down 
and treat you to pretty sentiments and empty flourishes, so that you 
may applaud me and depart, with neither shoulder, nor head, nor 
issue, nor abscess a whit the better for your visit? Is it then for this 
that young men are to quit their homes, and leave parents, friends, 
kinsmen and substance to mouth out Bravo to your empty phrases! 


If any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by 
reason of himself alone. For God hath made all men to enjoy feUcity 
and constancy of good. 


Shall we never wean ourselves — shall we never heed the teachings 
of Philosophy (unless perchance they have been sounding in our 
ears like an enchanter's drone) : — 

This World is one great City, and one is the substance whereof it 
is fashioned: a certain period indeed there needs must be, while 
these give place to those; some must perish for others to succeed; 
some move and some abide : yet all is full of friends — first God, then 
Men, whom Nature hath bound by ties of kindred each to each. 


Nor did the hero" weep and lament at leaving his children 
orphans. For he knew that no man is an orphan, but it is the Father 
that careth for all continually and for evermore. Not by mere report 
had he heard that the Supreme God is the Father of men: seeing 
that he called Him Father beHeving Him so to be, and in all that 
he did had ever his eyes fixed upon Him. Wherefore in whatsoever 
place he was, there it was given him to live happily. 


Know you not that the thing is a warfare? one man's duty is to 
mount guard, another must go out to reconnoitre, a third to battle; 
all cannot be in one place, nor would it even be expedient. But you, 
instead of executing your Commander's orders, complain if aught 

" Hcrculcj. 


harsher than usual is enjoined; not understanding to what condition 
you are bringing the army, so far as in you Hes. If all were to follow 
your example, none would dig a trench, none would cast a ram- 
part around the camp, none would keep watch, or expose himself 
to danger; but all turn out useless for the service of war. . . . Thus 
it is here also. Every life is a warfare, and that long and various. 
You must fulfil a soldier's duty, and obey each order at your com- 
mander's nod: aye, if it be possible, divine what he would have 
done; for between that Commander and this, there is no comparison, 
either in might or in excellence. 


Have you again forgotten? Know you not that a good man does 
nothing for appearance' sake, but for the sake of having done 
right.? . . . 

"Is there no reward then?" 

Reward! do you seek any greater reward for a good man than 
doing what is right and just? Yet at the Great Games you look for 
nothing else; there the victor's crown you deem enough. Seems it 
to you so small a thing and worthless, to be a good man, and happy 
therein ? 


It befits thee not to be unhappy by reason of any, but rather to be 
happy by reason of all men, and especially by reason of God, who 
formed us to this end. 


What, did Diogenes love no man, he that was so gentle, so true a 
friend to men as cheerfully to endure such bodily hardships for the 
common weal of all mankind? But how loved he them? As be- 
hoved a minister of the Supreme God, alike caring for men and 
subject unto God. 


I am by Nature made for my own good; not for my own evil. 



Remind thyself that he whom thou lovest is mortal — that what 
thou lovest is not thine own; it is given thee for the present, not 
irrevocably nor for ever, but even as a fig or a bunch of grapes at 
the appointed season of the year. . . . 

"But these are words of evil omen." . . . 

What, callest thou aught of evil omen save that which signifies 
some evil thing? Cowardice is a word of evil omen, if thou wilt, 
and meanness of spirit, and lamentation and mourning and shame- 
lessness. . . . 

But do not, I pray thee, call of evil omen a word that is significant 
of any natural thing: — as well call of evil omen the reaping of the 
corn; for it means the destruction of the ears, though not of the 
World! — as well say that the fall of the leaf is of evil omen; that 
the dried fig should take the place of the green; that raisins should 
be made from grapes. All these are changes from a former state into 
another; not destruction, but an ordered economy, a fixed adminis- 
tration. Such is leaving home, a change of small account; such is 
Death, a greater change, from what now is, not to what is not, but 
to what is not nou/. 

"Shall I then no longer be?" 

Not so; thou wilt be; but something different, of which the 
World now hath need. For thou too wert born not when thou 
chosest, but when the World had need of thee. 


Wherefore a good man and true, bearing in mind who he is and 
whence he came and from whom he sprang, cares only how he 
may fill his post with due discipline and obedience to God. 

Wilt thou that I continue to live? Then will I live, as one that is 
free and noble, as Thou wouldst have me. For Thou hast made 
me free from hindrance in what appertaineth unto me. But hast 
Thou no further need of me? I thank Thee! Up to this hour have 
I stayed for Thy sake and none other's: and now in obedience to 
Thee I depart. 


"How dost thou depart?" 

Again I say, as Thou wouldst have me; as one that is free, as Thy 
servant, as one whose ear is open unto what Thou dost enjoin, what 
Thou dost forbid. 


Whatsoever place or post Thou assignest me, sooner will I die a 
thousand deaths, as Socrates said, than desert it. And where wilt 
Thou have me to be? At Rome or Athens? At Thebes or on a 
desert island? Only remember me there! Shouldst Thou send me 
where man cannot live as Nature would have him, I will depart, not 
in disobedience to Thee, but as though Thou wert sounding the 
signal for my retreat: I am not deserting Thee — far be that from 
me! I only perceive that thou needest me no longer. 


If you are in Gyaros, do not let your mind dwell upon life at 
Rome, and all the pleasures it offered to you when living there, and 
all that would attend your return. Rather be intent on this — how he 
that lives in Gyaros may live in Gyaros like a man of spirit. And if 
you are at Rome, do not let your mind dwell upon the life at 
Athens, but study only how to live at Rome. 

Finally, in the room of all other pleasures put this — the pleasure 
which springs from conscious obedience to God. 


To a good man there is no evil, either in life or death. And if God 
supply not food, has He not, as a wise Commander, sounded the 
signal for retreat and nothing more? I obey, I follow — speaking 
good of my Commander, and praising His acts. For at His good 
pleasure I came; and I depart when it pleases Him; and while I 
was yet alive that was my work, to sing praises unto God! 


Reflect that the chief source of all evils to Man, and of baseness and 
cowardice, is not death, but the fear of death. 


Against this fear then, I pray you, harden yourself; to this let all 
your reasonings, your exercises, your reading tend. Then shall you 
know that thus alone are men set free. 


He is free who lives as he wishes to Uve; to whom none can do 
violence, none hinder or compel; whose impulses are unimpeded, 
whose desires attain their purpose, who falls not into what he would 
avoid. Who then would live in error? — None. Who would live 
deceived and prone to fall, unjust, intemperate, in abject whining 
at his lot? — None. Then doth no wicked man live as he would, 
and therefore neither is he free. 


Thus do the more cautious of travellers act. The road is said to 
be beset by robbers. The traveller will not venture alone, but awaits 
the companionship on the road of an ambassador, a quxstor or a 
proconsul. To him he attaches himself and thus passes by in safety. 
So doth the wise man in the world. Many are the companies of 
robbers and tyrants, many the storms, the straits, the losses of all 
a man holds dearest. Whither shall he fly for refuge — how shall he 
pass by unassailed ? What companion on the road shall he await for 
protection? Such and such a wealthy man, of consular rank? And 
how shall I be profited, if he is stripped and falls to lamentation and 
weeping? And how if my fellow-traveller himself turns upon me 
and robs me? What am I to do? I will become a friend of Caesar's! 
in his train none will do me wrong! In the first place — O the indig- 
nities I must endure to win distinction! O the multitude of hands 
there will be to rob me! And if I succeed, Caesar too is but a mortal. 
While should it come to pass that 1 offend him, whither shall I flee 
from his presence? To the wilderness? And may not fever await 
me there? What then is to be done? Cannot a fellow-traveller be 
found that is honest and loyal, strong and secure against surprise? 
Thus doth the wise man reason, considering that if he would pass 
through in safety, he must attach himself unto God. 



"How understandest thou attach himself to God?" 
That what God wills, he should will also; that what God wills not, 
neither should he will. 
"How then may this come to pass?" 
By considering the movements of God, and His administration. 


And dost thou that hast received all from another's hands, repine 
and blame the Giver, if He takes anything from thee? Why, who 
art thou, and to what end comest thou here? was it not He that 
brought thee into the world; was it not He that made the Light 
manifest unto thee, that gave thee fellow-workers, and senses, and 
the power to reason? And how brought He thee into the world? 
Was it not as one born to die; as one bound to live out his earthly life 
in some small tabernacle of flesh; to behold His administration, and 
for a little while to share with Him in the mighty march of this 
great Festival Procession? Now therefore that thou hast beheld, 
while it was permitted thee, the Solemn Feast and Assembly, wilt 
thou not cheerfully depart, when He summons thee forth, with 
adoration and thanksgiving for what thou hast seen and heard? — 
"Nay, but I would fain have stayed longer at the Festival." — Ah, so 
would the mystics fain have the rites prolonged; so perchance would 
the crowd at the Great Games fain behold more wrestlers still. 
But the Solemn Assembly is over! Come forth, depart with thanks- 
giving and modesty — give place to others that must come into being 
even as thyself. 


Why art thou thus insatiable? why thus unreasonable? why en- 
cumber the world? — "Aye, but 1 fain would have my wife and 
children with me too." — What, are they then thine, and not His 
that gave them — His that made thee? Give up then that which is 
not thine own: yield it to One who is better than thou. "Nay, but 
why did He bring one into the world on these conditions?" — If it 


suits thee not, depart! He hath no need of a spectator who finds 
fault with his lot! Them that will take part in the Feast he needeth 
— that will lift their voices with the rest, that men may applaud the 
more, and exalt the Great Assembly in hymns and songs of praise. 
But the wretched and the fearful He will not be displeased to see 
absent from it: for when they were present, they did not behave as 
at a Feast, nor fulfil their proper office; but moaned as though 
in pain, and found fault with their fate, their fortune and their 
companions; insensible to what had fallen to their lot, insensi- 
ble to the powers they had received for a very different purpose 
— the powers of Magnanimity, Nobility of Heart, of Fortitude, of 


Art thou then free? a man may say. So help me heaven, I long 
and pray for freedom! But I cannot look my masters boldly in the 
face; I still value the poor body; I still set much store on its preserva- 
tion whole and sound. 

But I can point thee out a free man, that thou mayest be no more 
in search of an example. Diogenes was free. How so? Not because 
he was of free parentage (for that, indeed, was not the case), but 
because he was himself free. He had cast away every handle whereby 
slavery might lay hold upon him, nor was it possible for any to 
approach and take hold of him to enslave him. All things sat loose 
upon him — all things were to him attached by but slender ties. Hadst 
thou seized upon his possessions, he would rather have let them go 
than have followed thee for them — aye, had it been even a limb, or 
mayhap his whole body; and in like manner, relatives, friends, 
and country. For he knew whence they came — from whose hands 
and on what terms he had received them. His true forefathers, the 
Gods, his true Country, he never would have abandoned; nor would 
he have yielded to any man in obedience and submission to the 
one nor in cheerfully dying for the other. For he was ever mindful 
that everything that comes to pass has its source and origin there; 
being indeed brought about for the weal of that his true Country, 
and directed by Him in whose governance it is. 



Ponder on this — on these convictions, on these words: fix thine eyes 
on these examples, if thou wouldst be free, if thou hast thine heart 
set upon the matter according to its worth. And what marvel if thou 
purchase so great a thing at so great and high a price? For the sake 
of this that men deem liberty, some hang themselves, others cast 
themselves down from the rock; aye, time has been when whole 
cities came utterly to an end : while for the sake of the Freedom that 
is true, and sure, and unassailable, dost thou grudge to God what 
He gave, when He claims it? Wilt thou not study, as Plato saith, 
to endure, not death alone, but torture, exile, stripes — in a word, to 
render up all that is not thine own ? Else thou wilt be a slave amid 
slaves, wert thou ten thousand times a consul; aye, not a whit the 
less, though thou climb the Palace steps. And thou shalt know 
how true is the saying of Cleanthes, that though the words of philos- 
ophy may run counter to the opinions of the world, yet have they 
reason on their side. 


Asked how a man should best grieve his enemy, Epictetus replied, 
"By setting himself to Uve the noblest life himself." 


I am free, I am a friend of God, ready to render Him willing 

obedience. Of all else I may set store by nothing — neither by mine 

own body, nor possessions, nor office, nor good report, nor, in a word, 

aught else beside. For it is not His Will, that I should so set store 

by these things. Had it been His pleasure. He would have placed 

my Good therein. But now He hath not done so: therefore I cannot 

transgress one jot of His commands. In everything hold fast to that 

which is thy Good — but to all else (as far as is given thee) within 

the measure of Reason only, contented with this alone. Else thou 

wilt meet with failure, ill success, let and hindrance. These are the 

Laws ordained of God — these are His Edicts; these a man should 

expound and interpret; to these submit himself, not to the laws of 

Masurius and Cassius." 

"Famous Roman jurists. 



Remember that not the love of power and wealth sets us under 
the heel of others, but even the love of tranquillity, of leisure, of 
change of scene — of learning in general, it matters not what the 
outward thing may be — to set store by it is to place thyself in sub- 
jection to another. Where is the difference then between desiring 
to be a Senator, and desiring not to be one: between thirsting for 
office and thirsting to be quit of it ? Where is the difference between 
crying. Woe is me, I l{now not what to do, bound hand and foot as 
I am to my boof^s so that I cannot stir! and crying. Woe is me, f 
have not time to read! As though a book were not as much an out- 
ward thing and independent of the will, as office and power and the 
receptions of the great. 

Or what reason hast thou (tell me) for desiring to read? For if 
thou aim at nothing beyond the mere delight of it, or gaining some 
scrap of knowledge, thou art but a poor, spiritless knave. But if 
thou desirest to study to its proper end, what else is this than a life 
that flows on tranquil and serene ? And if thy reading secures thee 
not serenity, what profits it.? — "Nay, but it doth secure it," quoth he, 
"and that is why I repine at being deprived of it." — And what 
serenity is this that lies at the mercy of every passer-by ? I say not at 
the mercy of the Emperor or Emperor's favourite, but such as 
trembles at a raven's croak and piper's din, a fever's touch or a 
thousand things of like sort! Whereas the life serene has no more 
certain mark than this, that it ever moves with constant unimpeded 


If thou hast put malice and evil speaking from thee, altogether, or 
in some degree: if thou hast put away from thee rashness, foulness 
of tongue, intemperance, sluggishness: if thou art not moved by what 
once moved thee, or in like manner as thou once wert moved — then 
thou mayst celebrate a daily festival, to-day because thou hast done 
well in this matter, to-morrow in that. How much greater cause is 
here for offering sacrifice, than if a man should become Consul or 



These things hast thou from thyself and from the Gods: only 
remember who it is that giveth them — to whom and for what pur- 
pose they were given. Feeding thy soul on thoughts like these, dost 
thou debate in what place happiness awaits thee ? in what place thou 
shalt do God's pleasure? Are not the Gods nigh unto all places 
aUke; see they not alike what everywhere comes to pass? 


To each man God hath granted this inward freedom. These 
are the principles that in a house create love, in a city concord, among 
nations peace, teaching a man gratitude towards God and cheerful 
confidence, wherever he may be, in dealing with outward things 
that he knows are neither his nor worth striving after. 


If you seek Truth, you will not seek to gain a victory by every 
possible means; and when you have found Truth, you need not 
fear being defeated. 


What foolish talk is this? how can I any longer lay claim to right 
principles, if I am not content with being what I am, but am all 
aflutter about what I am supposed to be? 


God hath made all things in the world, nay, the world itself, free 
from hindrance and perfect, and its parts for the use of the whole. 
No other creature is capable of comprehending His administration 
thereof; but the reasonable being Man possesses faculties for the con- 
sideration of all these things — not only that he is himself a part, but 
what part he is, and how it is meet that the parts should give place to 
the whole. Nor is this all. Being naturally constituted noble, mag- 
nanimous, and free, he sees that the things which surround him are 
of two kinds. Some are free from hindrance and in the power of the 
will. Others are subject to hindrance, and depend on the will of 


Other men. If then he place his own good, his own best interest, 
only in that which is free from hindrance and in his power, he will 
be free, tranquil, happy, unharmed, noble-hearted, and pious; giving 
thanks for all things unto God, finding fault with nothing that comes 
to pass, laying no charge against anything. Whereas if he place his 
good in outward things, depending not on the will, he must perforce 
be subject to hindrance and restraint, the slave of those that have 
power over the things he desires and fears; he must perforce be 
impious, as deeming himself injured at the hands of God; he must be 
unjust, as ever prone to claim more than his due; he must perforce 
be of a mean and abject spirit. 


Whom then shall I yet fear ? the lords of the Bedchamber, lest they 
should shut me out? If they find me desirous of entering in, let them 
shut me out, if they will. 

"Then why comest thou to the door?" 

Because I think it meet and right, so long as the Play lasts, to take 
part therein. 

"In what sense art thou then shut out?" 

Because, unless I am admitted, it is not my will to enter: on the 
contrary, my will is simply that which comes to pass. For I esteem 
what God wills better than what I will. To Him will I cleave as His 
minister and attendant; having the same movements, the same 
desires, in a word the same Will as He. There is no such thing as 
being shut out for me, but only for them that would force their 
way in. 


But what says Socrates? — "One man finds pleasure in improving 
his land, another his horses. My pleasure lies in seeing that I myself 
grow better day by day." 


The dress is suited to the craft; the craftsman takes his name from 
the craft, not from the dress. For this reason Euphrates was right in 
saying, "I long endeavoured to conceal my following the philo- 
sophic life; and this profited me much. In the first place, I knew that 


what I did aright, I did not for the sake of lookers-on, but for my 
own. I ate aright — unto myself; I kept the even tenor of my walk, 
my glance composed and serene — all unto myself and unto God. 
Then as I fought alone, I was alone in peril. If I did anything amiss 
or shameful, the cause of Philosophy was not in me endangered; nor 
did I wrong the multitude by transgressing as a professed philoso- 
pher. Wherefore those that knew not my purpose marvelled how it 
came about, that whilst all my life and conversation was passed with 
philosophers without exception, I was yet none myself. And what 
harm that the philosopher should be known by his acts, instead of 
by mere outward signs and symbols?" 


First study to conceal what thou art; seek wisdom a little while 
unto thyself. Thus grows the fruit; first, the seed must be buried in 
the earth for a little space; there it must be hid and slowly grow, that 
it may reach maturity. But if it produce the ear before the jointed 
stalk, it is imperfect — a thing from the garden of Adonis." Such a 
sorry growth art thou; thou hast blossomed too soon: the winter cold 
will wither thee away! 


First of all, condemn the life thou art now leading: but when thou 
hast condemned it, do not despair of thyself — be not like them of 
mean spirit, who once they have yielded, abandon themselves entirely 
and as it were allow the torrent to sweep them away. No; learn what 
the wrestling masters do. Has the boy fallen? "Rise," they say, 
"wrestle again, till thy strength come to thee." Even thus should it 
be with thee. For know that there is nothing more tractable than the 
human soul. It needs but to will, and the thing is done; the soul is 
set upon the right path : as on the contrary it needs but to nod over 
the task, and all is lost. For ruin and recovery alike are from within. 


It is the critical moment that shows the man. So when the crisis 
is upon you, remember that God, Uke a trainer of wrestlers, has 
'' Potted plants of forced growth carried in the processions in honor of Adonis. 


matched you with a rough and stalwart antagonist. — "To what end?" 
you ask. That you may prove the victor at the Great Games. Yet 
without toil and sweat this may not be! 


If thou wouldst make progress, be content to seem foolish and void 
of understanding with respect to outward things. Care not to be 
thought to know anything. If any should make account of thee, dis- 
trust thyself. 


Remember that in life thou shouldst order thy conduct as at a 
banquet. Has any dish that is being served reached thee? Stretch 
forth thy hand and help thyself modesdy. Doth it pass thee by ? Seek 
not to detain it. Has it not yet come? Send not forth thy desire to 
meet it, but wait until it reaches thee. Deal thus with children, thus 
with wife; thus with office, thus with wealth — and one day thou wilt 
be meet to share the Banquets of the Gods. But if thou dost not so 
much as touch that which is placed before thee, but despisest it, then 
shalt thou not only share the Banquets of the Gods, but their 
Empire also. 


Remember that thou art an actor in a play, and of such sort as the 
Author chooses, whether long or short. If it be his good pleasure to 
assign thee the part of a beggar, a ruler, or a simple citizen, thine it is 
to play it fitly. For thy business is to act the part assigned thee, well: 
to choose it, is another's. 


Keep death and exile daily before thine eyes, with all else that men 
deem terrible, but more especially Death. Then wilt thou never think 
a mean thought, nor covet anything beyond measure. 


As a mark is not set up in order to be missed, so neither is such 
a thing as natural evil produced in the World. 



Piety towards the Gods, be sure, consists chiefly in thinking rightly 
concerning them — that they are, and that they govern the Universe 
with goodness and justice; and that thou thyself art appointed to 
obey them, and to submit under ail circumstances that arise; acqui- 
escing cheerfully in whatever may happen, sure that it is brought to 
pass and accomplished by the most Perfect Understanding. Thus 
thou wilt never find fault with the Gods, nor charge them wdth 
neglecting thee. 


Lose no time in setting before you a certain stamp of character 
and behaviour to observe both when by yourself and in company 
with others. Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is 
necessary and in few words. We shall, however, when occasion de- 
mands, enter into discourse sparingly, avoiding such common topics 
as gladiators, horse-races, athletes; and the perpetual talk about food 
and drink. Above all avoid speaking of persons, either in the way 
of praise or blame,'-or comparison. 

If you can, win over the conversation of your company to what 
it should be by your own. But if you should find yourself cut off 
without escape among strangers and aliens, be silent. 


Laughter should not be much, nor frequent, nor unrestrained. 


Refuse altogether to take an oath if you can, if not, as far as may be. 


Banquets of the unlearned and of them that are without, avoid. 
But if you have occasion to take part in them, let not your attention 
be relaxed for a moment, lest you slip after all into evil ways. For 
you may rest assured that be a man ever so pure himself, he cannot 
escape defilement if his associates are impure. 


Take what relates to the body as far as the bare use warrants — as 
meat, drink, raiment, house and servants. But all that makes for 
show and luxury reject. 


If you are told that such an one speaks ill of you, make no defence 
against what was said, but answer. He surely knew not my other 
faults, else he would not have mentioned these only! 


When you visit any of those in power, bethink yourself that you 
will not find him in: that you may not be admitted: that the door 
may be shut in your face: that he may not concern himself about 
you. If with all this, it is your duty to go, bear what happens, and 
never say to yourself. It was not worth the trouble! For that would 
smack of the foolish and unlearned who suffer outward things to 
touch them. 


In company avoid frequent and undue talk about your own actions 
and dangers. However pleasant it may be to you to enlarge uf)on 
the risks you have run, others may not find such pleasure in listen- 
ing to your adventures. Avoid provoking laughter also: it is a 
habit from which one easily slides into the ways of the foolish, and 
apt to diminish the respect which your neighbours feel for you. To 
border on coarse talk is also dangerous. On such occasions, if a con- 
venient opportunity offer, rebuke the speaker. If not, at least by 
relapsing into silence, colouring, and looking annoyed, show that 
you are displeased with the subject. 


When you have decided that a thing ought to be done, and are 
doing it, never shun being seen doing it, even though the multitude 
should be likely to judge the matter amiss. For if you are not acting 
rightly, shun the act itself; if rightly, however, why fear misplaced 
censure ? 



It stamps a man of mean capacity to spend much time on the things 
of the body, as to be long over bodily exercises, long over eating, 
long over drinking, long over other bodily functions. Rather should 
these things take the second place, while all your care is directed tc 
the understanding. 


Everything has two handles, one by which it may be borne, the 
other by which it may not. If your brother sin against you lay not 
hold of it by the handle of his injustice, for by that it may not be 
borne: but rather by this, that he is your brother, the comrade of your 
youth; and thus you will lay hold on it so that it may be borne. 


Never call yourself a Philosopher nor talk much among the un- 
learned about Principles, but do that which follows from them. Thus 
at a banquet, do not discuss how people ought to eat; but eat as 
you ought. Remember that Socrates thus entirely avoided ostenta- 
tion. Men would come to him desiring to be recommended to phi- 
losophers, and he would conduct them thither himself — so well did 
he bear being overlooked. Accordingly if any talk concerning prin- 
ciples should arise among the unlearned, be you for the most part 
silent. For you run great risk of spewing up what you have ill 
digested. And when a man tells you that you know nothing and you 
are not nettled at it, then you may be sure that you have begun the 


When you have brought yourself to supply the needs of the body 
at small cost, do not pique yourself on that, nor if you drink only 
water, keep saying on each occasion, / drinl^ water! And if you ever 
want to practise endurance and toil, do so unto yourself and not unto 
others — do not embrace statues!" 

"As Diogenes is said to have done in winter. 



When a man prides himself on being able to understand and 
interpret the writmgs of Chrysippus," say to yourself: — 

If Chrysippus had not written obscurely, this fellow would have 
had nothing to be proud of. But what is it that / desire? To under- 
stand Nature, and to follow her! Accordingly I ask who is the Inter- 
preter. On hearing that it is Chrysippus, I go to him. But it seems 
I do not understand what he wrote. So I seek one to interpret that. 
So far there is nothing to pride myself upon. But when I have 
found my interpreter, what remains is to put in practice his instruc- 
tions. This itself is the only thing to be proud of. But if I admire 
the interpretation and that alone, what else have I turned out but 
a mere commentator instead of a lover of wisdom? — except indeed 
that I happen to be interpreting Chrysippus instead of Homer. So 
when any one says to me, Prithee, read me Chrysippus, I am more 
inclined to blush, when I cannot show my deeds to be in harmony 
and accordance with his sayings. 


At feasts, remember that you are entertaining two guests, body and 
soul. What you give to the body, you presendy lose; what you give 
to the soiJ, you keep for ever. 


At meals see to it that those who serve be not more in number 
than those who are served. It is absurd for a crowd of persons to be 
dancing attendance on half a dozen chairs. 


It is best to share with your attendants what is going forward, 
both in the labour of preparation and in the enjoyment of the feast 
itself. If such a thing be difficult at the time, recollect that you who 
are not weary are being served by those that are; you who are eating 
and drinking by those who do neither; you who are talking by those 
who are silent; you who are at ease by those who are under con- 
"The so<alled "Second Founder" of the Stoics. 


straint. Thus no sudden wrath will betray you into unreasonable con- 
duct, nor will you behave harshly by irritating another. 


When Xanthipjje was chiding Socrates for making scanty prep- 
aration for entertaining his friends, he answered: — "If they are 
friends of ours, they will not care for that; if they are not, we 
shall care nothing for them!" 


Asked, Who is the rich man? Epictetus replied, "He who is 


Favorinus" tells us how Epictetus would also say that there were 
two faults far graver and fouler than any others — inability to bear, 
and inability to forbear, when we neither patiently bear the blows 
that must be borne, nor abstain from the things and the pleasures 
we ought to abstain from. "So," he went on, "if a man will only 
have these two words at heart, and heed them carefully by ruling 
and watching over himself, he will for the most part fall into no 
sin, and his life will be tranquil and serene." He meant the words 
'kvkxw Kai ATexw— "Bear and Forbear." 


On all occasions these thoughts should be at hand:— 

Lead me, O God, and Thou, O Destiny*^ 
Be what it may the goal appointed me. 
Bravely I'll follow; nay, and if I would not, 
I'd prove a coward, yet must follow still! 


Who to Necessity doth bow aright. 

Is learn'd in wisdom and the things of God. 

Once more: — 

Crito, if this be God's will, so let it be. As for me, Anytus and Meletus 
can indeed put me to death, but injure me, neverl 

^ A Roman orator and sophist. 
" These verses are by Clcanthcs, the successor of Zeno as leader of the Stoics, and 
author of the Hymn printed in Appendix B. 



We shall then be like Socrates, when we can indite hymns of 
praise to the Gods in prison. 


It is hard to combine and unite these two qualities, the carefulness 
of one who is affected by circumstances, and the intrepidity of one 
who heeds them not. But it is not impossible: else were happiness 
also impossible. We should act as we do in seafaring. 

"What can I do?" — Choose the master, the crew, the day, the 
opportunity. Then comes a sudden storm. What matters it to me.' 
my part has been fully done. The matter is in the hands of another — 
the Master of the ship. The ship is foundering. What then have I 
to do.' I do the only thing that remains to me — to be drowned with- 
out fear, without a cry, without upbraiding God, but knowing that 
what has been born must likewise perish. For I am not Eternity, 
but a human being — a part of the whole, as an hour is part of the 
day. I must come like the hour, and like the hour must pass! 


And now we are sending you to Rome to spy out the land; but 
none send a coward as such a spy, that, if he hear but a noise and 
see a shadow moving anywhere, loses his wits and comes flying to 
say. The enemy are upon us! 

So if you go now, and come and tell us: "Everything at Rome is 
terrible: Death is terrible, Exile is terrible, Slander is terrible. Want 
is terrible; fly, comrades! the enemy are upon us!" we shall reply, 
Get you gone, and prophesy to yourself! we have but erred in send- 
ing such a spy as you. Diogenes, who was sent as a spy long before 
you, brought us back another report than this. He says that Death 
is no evil; for it need not even bring shame with it. He says that 
Fame is but the empty noise of madmen. And what report did this 
spy bring us of Pain, what of Pleasure, what of Want.' That to be 
clothed in sackcloth is better than any purple robe; that sleeping on 
the bare ground is the softest couch; and in proof of each assertion he 
points to his own courage, constancy, and freedom; to his own 


healthy and muscular frame. "There is no enemy near," he cries, 
"all is perfect peace!" 


If a man has this peace — not the peace proclaimed by Caesar (how 
indeed should he have it to proclaim?), nay, but the peace proclaimed 
by God through reason, will not that suffice him when alone, when 
he beholds and reflects: — Now can no evil happen unto me; for me 
there is no robber, for me no earthquake; all things are full of peace, 
full of tranquillity; neither highway nor city nor gathering of men, 
neither neighbour nor comrade can do me hurt. Another suppHes 
my food, whose care it is; another my raiment; another hath given 
me perceptions of sense and primary conceptions. And when He sup- 
plies my necessities no more, it is that He is sounding the retreat, that 
He hath opened the door, and is saying to thee. Come! — Whither? 
To nought that thou needest fear, but to the friendly kindred ele- 
ments whence thou didst spring. Whatsoever of fire is in thee, unto 
fire shall return; whatsoever of earth, unto earth; of spirit, unto spirit; 
of water, unto water. There is no Hades, no fabled rivers of Sighs, 
of Lamentation, or of Fire: but all things are full of Beings spiritual 
and divine. With thoughts like these, beholding the Sun, Moon, and 
Stars, enjoying earth and sea, a man is neither helpless nor alone! 


What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death? 
If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true human- 
ity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may not be found 
engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for this — what none 
may hinder, what is surely in my power — that I may be found rais- 
ing up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely 
with the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and 
thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of life. . . . 

If death surprise me thus employed, it is enough if I can stretch 
forth my hands to God and say, "The faculties which I received at 
Thy hands for apprehending this thine Administration, I have not 
neglected. As far as in me lay, I have done Thee no dishonour. Be- 
hold how I have used the senses, the primary conceptions which 


Thou gavest me. Have I ever laid anything to Thy charge? Have 
I ever murmured at aught that came to pass, or wished it otherwise? 
Have I in anything transgressed the relations of life? For that Thou 
didst beget me, I thank Thee for that Thou hast given: for the time 
during which I have used the things that were Thine, it suffices me. 
Take them back and place them wherever Thou wilt! They were 
all Thine, and Thou gavest them me." — If a man depart thus minded, 
is it not enough ? What life is fairer or more noble, what end happier 
than his? 




A LTFE entangled with Fortune is like a torrent. It is turbulent and 
muddy; hard to pass and masterful of mood: noisy and of brief 


The soul that companies with Virtue is like an ever-flowing source. 
It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught; sweet, rich, and gener- 
ous of its store; that injures not, neither destroys. 


It is a shame that one who sweetens his drink with the gifts of 
the bee, should embitter God's gift Reason with vice. 


Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer 
need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes 
they blind. 


Keep neither a blunt knife nor an ill-disciplined looseness of 


Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear 
from others twice as much as we speak. 


Do not give sentence in another tribunal till you have been your- 
self judged in the tribunal of Justice. 




It is shameful for a Judge to be judged by others. 


Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that 
is longer but of less account! 

Freedom is the name of virtue: Slavery, of vice. . . . None is a 
slave whose acts are free. 


Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most delight. 


Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become the 

least delightful. 


The anger of an ape — the threat of a flatterer: — these deserve equal 


Chastise thy passions that they avenge not themselves upon thee. 


No man is free who is not master of himself. 


A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope. 


Fortify thyself with contentment: that is an impregnable strong- 



No man who is a lover of money, of pleasure, of glory, is likewise 
a lover of Men; but only he that is a lover of whatsoever things are 
fair and good. 


Think of God more often than thou breathest. 


Choose the life that is noblest, for custom can make it sweet to thee. 


Let thy speech of God be renewed day by day, aye, rather than thy 
meat and drink. 


Even as the Sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, 
but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so thou also wait not for 
clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty; nay, do good 
of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like the Sun. 


Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none. 


If thou rememberest that God standeth by to behold and visit all 
that thou doest; whether in the body or in the soul, thou surely wilt 
not err in any prayer or deed; and thou shalt have God to dwell 
with thee. 

Note. — SchweiRhiuser's Rreat edition collects 181 fragments attributed to Epictetus, 
of which but a few are certainly genuine. Some (as xxi., xxiv., above) bear the stamp 
of Pythagorean origin; others, though changed in form, may well be based upon 
Epictetcan sayings. Most have been preserved in the Anthology of John of Stobi 
(Stobxus), a Byzantine collector, of whom scarcely anything is known but that he 
probably wrote towards the end of the fifth century, and made his vast body of 
extracts from more than five hundred authors for his son's use. The best examination 
of the authenticity of the Fragments is Quirstiones Epictelece, by R. Asmus, 1888. The 
above selection includes some of doubtful origin but intrinsic interest. — Crossley. 



Chiefest glory of deathless Gods, Almighty for ever, 

Sovereign of Nature that rulest by law, what Name shall we give 

Blessed be Thou! for on Thee should call all things that are mortal. 
For that we are Thine oflspring; nay, all that in myriad motion 
Lives for its day on the earth bears one impress — Thy likeness — 

upon it. 
Wherefore my song is of Thee, and I hymn Thy power for ever. 

Lo, the vast orb of the Worlds, round the Earth evermore as it 

Feels Thee its Ruler and Guide, and owns Thy lordship rejoicing. 
Aye, for Thy conquering hands have a servant of living fire — 
Sharp is the bolt! — where it falls. Nature shrinks at the shock and 

doth shudder. 
Thus Thou directest the Word universal that pulses through all 

Mingling its life with Lights that are great and Lights that are lesser, 
E'en as beseemeth its birth. High King through ages unending. 

Nought is done that is done without Thee in the earth or the waters 
Or in the heights of heaven, save the deed of the fool and the sinner. 
Thou canst make rough things smooth; at Thy Voice, lo, jarring 

Moveth to music, and Love is born where hatred abounded. 
Thus hast Thou fitted alike things good and things evil together, 
That over all might reign one Reason, supreme and eternal; 
Though thereunto the hearts of the wicked be hardened and 

heedless — 

1 86 


Woe unto them! — for while ever their hands are grasping at good 

BUnd are their eyes, yea, stopped are their ears to God's Law uni- 

Calling through wise obedience to live the life that is noble. 

This they mark not, but heedless of right, turn each to his own way, 

Here, a heart fired with ambition, in strife and straining unhallowed; 

There, thrusting honour aside, fast set upon getting and gaining; 

Others again given over to lusts and dissolute softness. 

Working never God's Law, but that which warreth upon it. 

Nay, but, O Giver of all things good, whose home is the dark cloud. 
Thou that wieldest Heaven's bolt, save men from their ignorance 

Scatter its night from their souls, and grant them to come to that 

Wherewithal, sistered with Justice, Thou rulest and governest all 

That we, honoured by Thee, may requite Thee with worship and 

Evermore praising thy works, as is meet for men that shall p)erish; 
Seeing that none, be he mortal or God, hath privilege nobler 
Than without stint, without stay, to extol Thy Law universal. 


Schn/eigh. ^ Epictetez Philosophiz MonumenU, Schweigbauser, Lips., 1799. 
Schen/^l = Epicteti Dissertationcs, H. SchcnkI, Ed. Minor, Lips. (Teubncr), 18 
Asmus =: Quxstiones Epictetesc, R. Asmus, Friburg, 1888. 

I. Arrian, Discourses i. 16, 15-19 
n. ib. ii. 23, 36-39 
IIL ib. iv. 4, 26 

IV. ib. iv. 12, 1 1 -I a 

V. ib. iii. 23, 29 

VI. ib. i. 7, 10 

VII. ib. iv. 6, 20 

VIII. «A. i. 2, 11-18 

IX. ib. i. 3, 1-6 

X. Fragment, quoted by M. Antoninus, 
iv. 41 ; Schweigh. clxxvi. 

XI. Arrian, Pise. i. 18, 15 

XII. ib. i. 29, 21 

XIII. ib. i. 6, 19-22 

XIV. ib. i. 6, 23-29 

XV. 1*. i. 9, 1 

XVI. ib. i. 9, 4-7 

XVII. ib. i. 9, 10-15 

XVIII. .*. i. 9, 16-17 

XIX. ib. i. 9, 18-22 

XX. ib. i. 6, 37-43 

XXI. ib. i. 9, 22 

XXII. ib. i. 17, 27-28 

XXIII. ib. i. 5, 3-5 

XXIV. ib. i. 10, 1-10 (abbreviated) 

XXV. ib. i. 9, 27-28 

XXVI. ib. i. 12, 15-16 

XXVII. ib. iv. 3. I 

XXVIII. ib. i. 12, 1-3 

XXIX. ib. i. 12, 7-12 

XXX. Fragment (from "Memoirs of 
Epict."); Schweigh. Ixxii.; Schenkl, 16 

XXXI. Arrian, Disc. i. 12, 20-21 

XXXII. ib. i. 12, 22-23 

XXXIII. ib. i. 12, 26-27 

XXXIV. ib. i. 13 

XXXV. Fragment (Stobius); Schweigh. 
XV.; Schenkl, 17 

XXXVI. Arrian, Disc. i. 14, 1-6 

XXXVII. ib. i. 14, 12-17 

XXXVIII. ib. i. 15. 5 

XXXIX. ib. i. 15, 6-8 

XL. ib. i. 19, 19-23 

XLI. Fragment, Schweigh. xlii.; Schenkl, 

Gn. Epict. Stob. 36 
XLII. Arrian, Disc. L 19, 24-25 
XLIII. ib. i. 19, 26-29 
XLIV. ib. i. 24, 20 
XLV. ib. i. 25, 18-22 
XLVI. ib. i. 26, 15-16 
XLVII. lA. i. 26, 17-18 
XLVIII. ,b. u. 2, 8-9 
XLIX. ib. I. 29, 46-49 
L. Fragment (Stobzus); Schweigh. vii. 
LI. Arrian, Disc. i. 30, 1-4 
U\. ib. i. 29, 16-18 
LIII. ib. iii. I, 36-38 
UV. ib. ii. 2, 17 
LV. ih. ii. I, 8 and 13 
LVI. ib. ii. 5, 24-29 
LVII. ib. ii. 3, 1-2 
LVIII. ib. ii. 7, 10-14 
LIX. I*, ii. 8, 1-3 
LX. ib. ii. 8, 9-14 
LXI. ib. ii. 8, 15-23 and 27-28 
LXII. Fragment (Stobxus); Schweigh. 

I vii. 
LXIII. ib. ii. 12, 3-4 
LXIV. ib. ii. 12, 14-25 
LXV. Fragment; Schweigh. clxx. (v. 

Asmus, p. 20) 
LXVI. Arrian, Disc. ii. 14, 10-13 
LXVII. /*. ii. 14, 19-22 
LXVIII. ib. ii. 14, 23-29 
LXIX. ib. ii. 15, 13-14 
LXX. ib. ii. 16, 32-34 
LXXI. ib. ii. 16, 41-47 
LXXII. ib. ii. 17, I 
LXXIII. ib. ii. 17, 29-33 
LXXIV. Fragment (M. Antoninus); 

Schweigh. clxxviii.; Schenkl, 28 
LXXV. Arrian, Disc. ii. 18, 5-12 
LXXVI. ib. ii. 18, 19 
LXXVII. ib. ii. 18, 27-29 
LXXVIII. ib. U. 19. 23-28 




LXXIX. Manual, 37 

LXXX. Arrian, Disc. ii. 21, 11-16 

LXXXI. ib. ii. 24 (abbreviated) 

LXXXII. ih. ii. 22, 24-27, and 29-30 

LXXXIII. ih. iii. 22, 105 

LXXXIV. ih. iii. 5, 7-1 1 

LXXXV. ib. iii. 5, 16-18 (abbreviated) 

LXXXVI. lb. iii. 7, 27-28 

LXXXVII. ib. iii. 3, I 

LXXXVIII. Fragment (Stobanis); 

5>chweigh. Ixvii.; Schenkl, 5 
LXXXIX. Arrian, Disc. iii. 3, 3-4 
XC. ib. iii. 6, 8 

XCI. ib. iii. 7, 30-36 (abbreviated) 
XCII. ib. iii. 8, 5-6 
XCIII. ih. iii. 9, 1-14 (abbreviated) 
XCIV. ib. iii. 9, 16-18 
XCV. ib. iii. 9, 21-22 
XCVI. Fragment (Stobxus); Schwreigh. 

XCVII. Arrian, Disc. iii. 10, 19-20 
XCVIII. ib. iii. 13, 6-8 
XCIX. ib. iii. 16, 1-8 
C.ih. iii. 12, 16-17 
CI. lA. iii. 13, 21 
ClI. ib. iii. 13, 23 
cm. (*. iii. 14, 1-3 
CIV. ib. iii. 15, 2-7 and 9-12 
CV. ib. iii. 19, 6 

CVI. ih. iii. 20, 9-12 (abbreviated) 
CVII. ih. iii. 16, 9-10 
CVIII. ib. iii. 21, 17-20 
CIX. ib. iii. 21, 23 
ex. ih. iii. 22, 1-8 
CXI. ib. iii. 22, 14-15 
CXII. ib. iii. 22, 21 
CXIII. ih. iii. 22, 23-25 
CXIV. ih. iii. 22, 45-49 
CXV. ib. iii. 22, 53 
CXVI. ib. iii. 22, 67-69 
CX\ni. ib. iii. 22, 83-85 
C;XVIII. ib. iii. 22, 86-89 
CXIX. ih. iii. 22, 94-96 
CXX. ib. ui. 23, 27-28 
CXXI. ib. iii. 23, 30-31 
CXXII. ib. iii. 24, 2 
CXXIII. /*. iii. 24, 9-1 1 
CXXIV. .*. iii. 24, 15-16 
CXXV. ih. iii. 24, 31-32 and 34-35 
CXXVI. ib. iii. 24, 50-53 (abbreviated) 
CXXVII. ib. iii. 24, 63 
CXXVIII. /*. iii. 24, 64 
CXXIX. ib. iu. 24, 83 
CXXX. ib. iii. 24, 86 and 89-94 

CXXXl. ib. iii. 24, 95-98 

CXXXII. ih. iii. 24, 99-101 

CXXXIII. /'*. iii. 24, 109-110 

CXXXIV. ib. iii. 26, 28-30 

CXXXV. ih. iii. 26, 38-39 

CXXXVl. ib. iv. I, 1-3 

CXXXVII. ib. iv. 1, 91-98 

CXXXVIII. ib. iv. I, 99-100 

CXXXIX. ib. iv. I, 103-106 

CXL. ib. iv. I, 106-109 

CXLI. ih. iv. I, 151-155 

CXLII. ih. iv. 1, 170-173 

CXLIII. Fragment (Antonius Monachus); 

Schweigh. cxxx. 
CXLIV. Arrian, Disc. iv. 3, 9-12 
CXLV. ib. iv. 4, 1-5 
CXLVI. ih. iv. 4, 46-47 
CXLVII. ih. iv. 4, 47-48 
CXLVIII. ih. iv. 5, 34-35 
CXLIX. Fragment; Schweigh. xxxix.; 

Schenkl, Gn. Epict. Stob. 29 
CL., Disc. iv. 6, 24 
CU. ib. iv. 7, 6-1 1 
CLII. ib. iv. 7, 19-20 
CLIII. ib. iii. 5, 14 
CUV. ih. iv. 8, 16-20 
CLV. ib. iv. 8, 35-37 
CLVI. ib. iv. 9, 14-16 
CLVII. Arrian, Disc. i. 23, 1-2 
CLVIII. Manual, xiii. 
CUX. ib. XV. 
CLX. /*. xvii. 
CLXI. ib. xxi. 
CLXII. ib. xxvii. 
CLXIII. ib. xxxi. 
CLXIV. ib. xxxiiL 
CLXV. ib. xxxiii. 
CLXVI. ib. xxxiii. 
CLXVII. ib xxxiu. 
CLXVIII. ib. xxxiii. 
CLXIX. ib. xxxiii. 
CLXX. ib. xxxiii. 
CLXXI. ib. xxxiii. 
CLXXIII. ib. xli. 
CLXXIV. ih. xliii. 
CUCXV. ib. xlvi. 
CLXXVI. ib. xlvii. 
CLXXVII. ih. xlix. 
CLXXVIII. Fragment; Schweigh. xxxi.; 

Schenkl, Gn. Epict. Slob. 20 
CLXXIX. ih. xxxiii. and 23 
CLXXX. ih. xxxiv. and 24 
CLXXXI. ib. attributed to Epict. by 

Maximus; Schweigh. clxxiii. (v. Asmus, 

p. 20) 
CLXXXII. ib.; Schweigh. clxxii. 


CLXXXin. ih. (Aulus Gellius); Schweigh. 

clxxix.; Schenld, lo 
CLXXXIV. Manual, lii. 
CLXXXV. Arrian, Disc. ii. 6, 26 


CLXXXVI. ib. ii. 5, 9-13 
CLXXXVII. ib. i. 24, 3-9 
CLXXXVIII. ib. ui. 13, 11-16 
CLXXXIX. ib. iv. 10, ij-17 


I. Schweigh. Fragment, i; Scbenkl, Gn. 
Epict. Stob. i. 

II. ib. 2—.*. 2 

III. Schweigh. 12; Schenkl, 22 

IV. ib. 103 

V. ib. 141 

VI. ib. 142 

VII. ib. 60; Schenkl, 50 

VIII. ib. 65; ib. 55 

IX. ib. 96 

X. ib. 9; ib. 32 

XI. ib. 54; Schenkl, Fragment, xxxiiL 

XII. ib. ss; ib. xxxiv. 

XIII. Schweigh. 104 

XIV. ib. 5; Schenkl, Gn. Epict. Slob. 5 

XV. ib. 114; Schenkl, Fragment, xxxv. 

XVI. ib. 89; ib. XXX. 

XVII. ib. 138 

XVIII. ih. 13; Schenkl, Gn. Epict. Stob. 46 

XIX. ib. 119 

XX. ib. 144 

XXI. i*. 118 

XXII. ib. 88; Schenkl, i*. 67 

XXIII. i&. i;6 

XXIV. »A. 120 





Marcus Annius Verus was born in Rome, A.D. 121, and assumed 
the name of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, by which he is known to 
history, on his adoption by the Emperor T. Aurelius Antoninus. He 
succeeded to the imjjerial throne in 161, and ruled till his death in 180. 
His reign, though marked by justice and moderation at home, was 
troubled by constant warfare on the frontiers of the Empire, and Aurelius 
spent much of his later years in the uncongenial task of commanding 
armies that no longer proved irresistible against the barbarian hordes. 

M. Aurelius was educated by the orator Fronto, but turned aside from 
rhetoric to the study of the Stoic philosophy, of which he was the last dis- 
tinguished representative. The "Meditations," which he wrote in Greek, 
are among the most noteworthy expressions of this system, and exhibit 
it favorably on its practical side. His own precepts he carried out with 
singular consistency; and both in his public and his private life he was in 
the highest degree conscientious. He and his predecessor are noted as 
the only Roman emperors who can be said to have ruled with a single 
eye to the welfare of their subjects. 

During his reign Rome was visited by a severe pestilence, and this, 
with reverses suffered by his armies, threw the populace into a panic, 
and led them to demand the sacrifice of the Christians, whom they re- 
garded as having brought down the anger of the gods. Aurelius seems 
to have shared the panic; and his record is stained by his sanction of a 
cruel persecution. This incident in the career of the last, and one of the 
loftiest, of the pagan moralists may be regarded as symbolic of the dying 
effort of heathenism to check the advancing tide of Christianity. 

The "Meditations" picture with faithfulness the mind and character 
of this noblest of the Emjserors. Simple in style and sincere in tone, they 
record for all time the height reached by pagan aspiration in its effort 
to solve the problem of conduct; and the essential agreement of his 
practice with his teaching proved that "Even in a palace life may be led 





FROM my grandfather Verus [I learned] good morals and the 
government of my temper. 
2. From the reputation and remembrance of my father, mod- 
esty and a manly character. 

3. From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not 
only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further sim- 
plicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich. 

4. From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented public 
schools, and to have had good teachers at home, and to know that on 
such things a man should spend liberally. 

5. From my governor, to be neither of the green nor of the blue 
party at the games in the Circus, nor a partizan either of the Parmu- 
larius or the Scutarius at the gladiators' fights; from him too I 
learned endurance of labour, and to want little, and to work with my 
own hands, and not to meddle with other people's affairs, and not to 
be ready to listen to slander. 

6. From Diognetus, not to busy myself about trifling things, and 
not to give credit to what was said by miracle-workers and jugglers 
about incantations and the driving away of daemons and such things; 
and not to breed quails [for fighting], nor to give myself up pas- 
sionately to such things; and to endure freedom of speech; and to 
have become intimate with philosophy; and to have been a hearer, 
first of Bacchius, then of Tandasis and Marcianus; and to have writ- 
ten dialogues in my youth; and to have desired a plank bed and skin, 
and whatever else of the kind belongs to the Grecian discipline. 

7. From Rusticus I received the impression that my character 
required improvement and discipline; and from him I learned not 
to be led astray to sophistic emulation, nor to writing on speculative 


matters, nor to delivering little hortatory orations, nor to showing 
myself off as a man who practises much discipline, or does benevolent 
acts in order to make a display; and to abstain from rhetoric, and 
poetry, and fine writing; and not to walk about in the house in my 
outdoor dress, nor to do other things of the kind; and to write my 
letters with simplicity, like the letter which Rusticus wrote from 
Sinuessa to my mother; and with respect to those who have offended 
me by words, or done me wrong, to be easily disposed to be pacified 
and reconciled, as soon as they have shown a readiness to be recon- 
ciled; and to read carefully, and not to be satisfied with a superficial 
understanding of a book; nor hastily to give my assent to those who 
talk overmuch; and I am indebted to him for being acquainted with 
the discourses of Epictetus, which he communicated to me out of 
his own collection. 

8. From ApoUonius I learned freedom of will and undeviating 
steadiness of purpose; and to look to nothing else, not even for a 
moment, except to reason; and to be always the same, in sharp pains, 
on the occasion of the loss of a child, and in long illness; and to see 
clearly in a living example that the same man can be both most reso- 
lute and yielding, and not peevish in giving his instruction; and to 
have had before my eyes a man who clearly considered his experience 
and his skill in expounding philosophical principles as the smallest 
of his merits; and from him I learned how to receive from friends 
what are esteemed favours, without being either humbled by them 
or letting them pass unnoticed. 

9. From Sextus, a benevolent disposition, and the example of a 
family governed in a fatherly manner, and the idea of living conform- 
ably to nature; and gravity without affectation, and to look carefully 
after the interests of friends, and to tolerate ignorant persons, and 
those who form opinions without consideration: he had the power 
of readily accommodating himself to all, so that intercourse with him 
was more agreeable than any flattery; and at the same time he was 
most highly venerated by those who associated with him; and he 
had the faculty both of discovering and ordering, in an intelligent 
and methodical way, the principles necessary for life; and he never 
showed anger or any other passion, but was entirely free from pas- 
sion, and also most affectionate; and he could express approbation 


without noisy display, and he possessed much knowledge without 

10. From Alexander, the grammarian, to refrain from fault-find- 
ing, and not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any 
barbarous or solecistic or strange-sounding expression; but dexter- 
ously to introduce the very expression which ought to have been used, 
and in the way of answer or giving confirmation, or joining in an 
inquiry about the thing itself, not about the word, or by some other 
fit suggestion. 

11. From Fronto I learned to observe what envy and duplicity and 
hypocrisy are in a tyrant, and that generally those among us who are 
called Patricians are rather deficient in paternal affection. 

12. From Alexander the Platonic, not frequently nor without neces- 
sity to say to any one, or to write in a letter, that I have no leisure; 
nor continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our rela- 
tion to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations. 

13. From Catulus, not to be indifferent when a friend finds fault, 
even if he should find fault without reason, but to try to restore him 
to his usual disposition ; and to be ready to speak well of teachers, as 
it is reported of Domitius and Athenodotus; and to love my children 

14. From my brother Severus, to love my kin, and to love truth, 
and to love justice; and through him I learned to know Thrasea, Hel- 
vidius, Cato, Dion, Brutus; and from him I received the idea of a pol- 
ity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with 
regard to equal rights and equal freedom of sf>eech, and the idea of 
a kingly government which res[)ects most of all the freedom of the 
governed; I learned from him also consistency and undeviating 
steadiness in my regard for philosophy, and a disfwsition to do good, 
and to give to others readily, and to cherish good hopes, and to be- 
Ueve that I am loved by my friends; and in him I observed no con- 
cealment of his opinions with respect to those whom he condemned, 
and that his friends had no need to conjecture what he wished or 
did not wish, but it was quite plain. 

15. From Maximus I learned self-government, and not to be led 
aside by anything; and cheerfulness in all circumstances, as well as 
in illness; and a just admixture in the moral character of sweetness 


and dignity, and to do what was set before me without complaining. 
I observed that everybody believed that he thought as he spoke, and 
that in all that he did he never had any bad intention; and he never 
showed amazement and surprise, and was never in a hurry, and 
never put off doing a thing, nor was perplexed nor dejected, nor did 
he ever laugh to disguise his vexation, nor, on the other hand, was he 
ever passionate or suspicious. He was accustomed to do acts of 
beneficence and was ready to forgive, and was free from all false- 
hood; and he presented the appearance of a man who could not be 
diverted from right rather than of a man who had been improved. 
I observed, too, that no man could ever think that he was despised 
by Maximus, or ever venture to think himself a better man. He had 
also the art of being humorous in an agreeable way. 

16. In my father I observed mildness of temper, and unchange- 
able resolution in the things which he had determined after due deUb- 
eration; and no vainglory in those things which men call honours; 
and a love of labour and perseverance; and a readiness to listen to 
those who had anything to propose for the common weal; and un- 
deviating firmness in giving to every man according to his deserts; 
and a knowledge derived from experience of the occasions for vig- 
orous action and for remission. And I observed that he had over- 
come all passion for joys; and he considered himself no more than 
any other citizen, and he released his friends from all obligation to 
sup with him or to attend him of a necessity when he went abroad, 
and those who failed to accompany him by reason of any urgent cir- 
cumstances, always found him the same. I observed, too, his habit of 
careful inquiry in all matters of deliberation, and his persistency, 
and that he never stopped his investigation through being satisfied 
with appearances which first present themselves; and that his disposi- 
tion was to keep his friends, and not to be soon tired of them, nor yet 
to be extravagant in his affection; and to be satisfied on all occasions, 
and cheerful; and to foresee things a long way off, and to provide 
for the smallest without display; and to check immediately popular 
applause and flattery, and to be ever watchful over the things which 
were necessary for the administration of the empire, and to be a good 
manager of the expenditure, and patiently to endure the blame which 
he got for such conduct; and he was neither superstitious with 


respect to the gods, nor did he court men by gifts or by trying to 
please them, or by flattering the populace; but he showed sobriety 
in all things and firmness, and never any mean thoughts or action, . 
nor love of novelty. And the things which conduce in any way to 
the commodity of life, and of which fortune gives an abundant sup- 
ply, he used without arrogance and without excusing himself; so 
that when he had them, he enjoyed them without affectation, and 
when he had them not he did not want them. No one could ever say 
of him that he was either a sophist or a [home-bred] flippant slave 
or a pedant; but every one acknowledged him to be a man ripe, 
perfect, above flattery, able to manage his own and other men's 
affairs. Besides this, he honoured those who were true philosophers, 
and he did not reproach those who pretended to be philosophers, 
nor yet was he easily led by them. He was also easy in conversation, 
and he made himself agreeable without any offensive affectation. 
He took a reasonable care of his body's health, not as one who was 
greatly attached to life, nor out of regard to personal appjearance, 
nor yet in a careless way, but so that, through his own attention, he 
very seldom stood in need of the physician's art or of medicine or 
external applications. He was most ready to give way without envy 
to those who possessed any particular faculty, such as that of elo- 
quence or knowledge of the law or of morals, or of anything else; 
and he gave them his help, that each might enjoy reputation accord- 
ing to his deserts; and he always acted conformably to the institutions 
of his country, without showing any affectation of doing so. Further, 
he was not fond of change, nor unsteady, but he loved to stay in the 
same places, and to employ himself about the same things; and after 
his paroxysms of headache he came immediately fresh and vigorous 
to his usual occupations. His secrets were not many, but very few 
and very rare, and these only about public matters; and he showed 
prudence and economy in the exhibition of the public spectacles and 
the construction of public buildings, his donations to the people, and 
in such things, for he was a man who looked to what ought to be 
done, not to the reputation which is got by a man's acts. He did 
not take the bath at unseasonable hours; he was not fond of build- 
ing houses, nor curious about what he eat, nor about the texture and 
colour of his clothes, nor about the beauty of his slaves. His dress 


came from Lorium, his villa on the coast, and from Lanuvium gen- 
erally. We know how he behaved to the toll-collector at Tusculum 
who asked his pardon; and such was all his behaviour. There was 
in him nothing harsh, nor implacable, nor violent, nor, as one may 
say, anything carried to the sweating point; but he examined all 
things severally as if he had abundance of time, and without con- 
fusion, in an orderly way, vigorously and consistently. And that 
might be applied to him which is recorded of Socrates, that he was 
able both to abstain from, and to enjoy, those things which many 
are too weak to abstain from, and cannot enjoy without excess. But 
to be strong enough both to bear the one and to be sober in the other 
is the mark of a man who has a perfect and invincible soul, such as 
he showed in the illness of Maximus. 

17. To the gods I am indebted for having good grandfathers, good 
parents, a good sister, good teachers, good associates, good kinsmen 
and friends, nearly everything good. Further, I owe it to the gods 
that I was not hurried into any offence against any of them, though 
I had a disposition which, if opportunity had offered, might have led 
me to do something of this kind; but, through their favour, there 
never was such a concurrence of circumstances as put me to the trial. 
Further, I am thankful to the gods that I was not longer brought up 
with my grandfather's concubine, and that I preserved the flower 
of my youth, and that I did not make proof of my virility before 
the proper season, but even deferred the time; that I was subjected 
to a ruler and a father who was able to take away all pride from 
me, and to bring me to the knowledge that it is possible for a man 
to live in a palace without wanting either guards or embroidered 
dresses, or torches and statues, and suchlike show; but it is in such a 
man's power to bring himself very near to the fashion of a private 
person, without being for this reason either meaner in thought, or 
more remiss in action, with respect to the things which must be 
done for the pubhc interest in a manner that befits a ruler. 1 thank 
the gods for giving me such a brother, who was able by his moral 
character to rouse me to vigilance over myself, and who, at the 
same time, pleased me by his respect and affection; that my children 
have not been stupid nor deformed in body; that I did not make more 
proficiency in rhetoric, poetry, and the other studies, in which I 


should perhaps have been completely engaged, if I had seen that I 
was making progress in them; that I made haste to place those 
who brought me up in the station of honour which they seemed 
to desire without putting them off with hope of my doing it some 
time after, because they were then still young; that I knew ApoUon- 
ius, Rusticus, Maximus; that I received clear and frequent impres- 
sions about living according to nature, and what kind of a Ufe that 
is, so that, so far as def)ended on the gods, and their gifts and help, 
and inspirations, nothing hindered me from forthwith living accord- 
ing to nature, though I still fall short of it through my own fault, 
and though not observing the admonitions of the gods, and, I may 
almost say, their direct instructions; that my body has held out so 
long in such a kind of life; that I never touched either Benedicta or 
Theodotus, and that, after having fallen into amatory passions, I 
was cured; and, though I was often out of humour with Rusticus, 
I never did anything of which I had occasion to repent; that, though 
it was my mother's fate to die young, she spent the last years of her 
life with me; that, whenever I wished to help any man in his need, 
or on any other occasion, I was never told that I had not the means of 
doing it; and that to myself the same necessity never happened, to 
receive anything from another; that I have such a wife, so obedient, 
and so affectionate, and so simple; that I had abundance of good mas- 
ters for my children; and that remedies have been shown to me by 
dreams, both others, and against blood-spitting and giddiness; 
. . . and that, when I had an inclination to philosophy, I did not 
fall into the hands of any sophist, and that I did not waste my time 
on writers [of histories], or in the resolution of syllogisms, or occupy 
myself about the investigation of appearances in the heavens; for 
all these things require the help of the gods and fortune. 
Among the Quad! at the Granua. 


KGIN the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the 
busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unso- 
cial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ig- 
norance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of 
the good that it is beautiful and of the bad that it is ugly, and the na- 


ture of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not [only] of the 
same blood or seed, but that it participates in [the same] intdligence 
and [the same] portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any 
of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry 
with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, 
like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and 
lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; 
and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away. 

2. Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath, and the 
ruling part. Throw away thy books; no longer distract thyself: it 
is not allowed; but as if thou wast now dying, despise the flesh, it 
is blood and bones and a network, a contexture of nerves, veins and 
arteries. See the breath also, what kind of a thing it is; air, and not 
always the same, but every moment stnt out and again sucked in. 
The third then is the ruling part: consider thus: Thou art an old 
man; no longer let this be a slave, no longer be pulled by the strings 
like a puppet to unsocial movements, no longer be either dissatisfied 
with thy present lot, or shrink from the future. 

3. All that is from the gods is full of providence. That which is 
from fortune is not separated from nature or without an interweav- 
ing and involution with the things which are ordered by Providence. 
From thence all things flow; and there is besides necessity, and that 
which is for the advantage of the whole universe, of which thou 
art a part. But that is good for every part of nature which the nature 
of the whole brings, and what serves to maintain this nature. Now 
the universe is preserved, as by the changes of the elements, so by 
the changes of things compounded of the elements. Let these prin- 
ciples be enough for thee; let them always be fixed opinions. But cast 
away the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring, 
but cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods. 

4. Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, 
and how often thou hast received an opportunity from the gods, and 
yet dost not use it. Thou must now at last perceive of what universe 
thou art a part, and of what administrator of the universe thy exist- 
ence is an efflux, and that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if 
thou dost not use for clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will 
go and thou wilt go, and it will never return. 


5. Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man to do 
what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling 
of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from 
all other thoughts. And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest 
every act of thy life as if it were the last, laying aside all careless- 
ness and passionate aversion from the commands of reason, and all 
hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion which has 
been given to thee. Thou seest how few the things are, the which 
if a man lays hold of, he is able to live a life which flows in quiet, 
and is like the existence of the gods; for the gods on their part will 
require nothing more from him who observes these things. 

6. Do wrong to thyself, do wrong to thyself, my soul ; but thou wilt 
no longer have the opportunity of honouring thyself. Every man's 
life is sufficient. But thine is nearly finished, though thy soul rever- 
ences not itself, but places thy felicity in the souls of others. 

7. Do the things external which fall upon thee distract thee? Give 
thyself time to learn something new and good, and cease to be 
whirled around. But then thou must also avoid being carried about 
the other way. For those too are triflers who have wearied them- 
selves in life by their activity, and yet have no object to which to 
direct every movement, and, in a word, all their thoughts. 

8. Through not observing what is in the mind of another a man 
has seldom been seen to be unhappy; but those who do not observe 
the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy. 

9. This thou must always bear in mind, what is the nature of the 
whole, and what is my nature, and how this is related to that, and 
what kind of a part it is of what kind of a whole; and that there is no 
one who hinders thee from always doing and saying the things 
which are according to the nature of which thou art a part. 

10. Theophrastus, in his comparison of bad acts — such a com- 
parison as one would make in accordance with the common notions 
of mankind — says, like a true philosopher, that the offences which are 
committed through desire are more blamable than those which are 
committed through anger. For he who is excited by anger seems to 
turn away from reason with a certain pain and unconscious contrac- 
tion; but he who offends through desire, being overpowered by pleas- 
ure, seems to be in a manner more intemperate and more womanish 


in his offences. Rightly then, and in a way worthy of philosophy, he 
said that the offence which is committed with pleasure is more blam- 
able than that which is committed with pain; and on the whole the 
one is more like a person who has been first wronged and through 
pain is compelled to be angry; but the other is moved by his own 
impulse to do wrong, being carried toward doing something by 

11. Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very 
moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away 
from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for 
the gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, 
or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to 
live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of providence.? But in 
truth they do exist, and they do care for human things, and they 
have put all the means in man's power to enable him not to fall into 
real evils. And as to the rest, if there was anything evil, they would 
have provided for this also, that it should be altogether in a man's 
power not to fall into it. Now, that which does not make a man 
worse, how can it make a man's life worse? But neither through ig- 
norance, nor having the knowledge, but not the power to guard 
against or correct these things, is it possible that the nature of the 
universe has overlooked them; nor is it possible that it has made so 
great a mistake, either through want of power or want of skill, that 
good and evil should happen indiscriminately to the good and the 
bad. But death certainly, and life, honour and dishonour, pain and 
pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being 
things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are 
neither good nor evil. 

12. How quickly all these things disappear, in the universe the 
bodies themselves, but in time the remembrance of them; what is 
the nature of all sensible things, and particularly those which attract 
with the bait of pleasure or terrify by pain, or are noised about by 
vapoury fame; how worthless, and contemptible, and sordid, and per- 
ishable, and dead they are — all this it is the part of the intellectual 
faculty to observe. To observe, too, who these are whose opinions and 
voices give reputation; what death is, and the fact that, if a man 
looks at it in itself, and by the abstractive power of reflection resolves 


into their parts all the things which present themselves to the imagi- 
nation in it, he will then consider it to be nothing else than an opera- 
tion of nature; and if any one is afraid of an of)eration of nature he 
is a child. This, however, is not only an operation of nature, but it is 
also a thing which conduces to the purposes of nature. To observe, 
too, how man comes near to the Deity, and by what part of him, 
and when this part of man is so disposed (vi. 28). 

13. Nothing is more wretched than a man who traverses every- 
thing in a round, and pries into things beneath the earth, as the poet 
says, and seeks by conjecture what is in the minds of his neighbours, 
without perceiving that it is sufficient to attend to the daemon within 
him, and to reverence it sincerely. And reverence of the dxmon con- 
sists in keeping it pure from passion and thoughtlessness, and dissat- 
isfaction with what comes from gods and men. For the things from 
the gods merit veneration for their excellence; and the things from 
men should be dear to us by reason of kinship; and sometimes 
even, in a manner, they move our pity by reason of men's igno- 
rance of good and bad; this defect being not less than that which 
deprives us of the power of distinguishing things that are white 
and black. 

14. Though thou shouldest be going to live three thousand years, 
and as many times ten thousand years, still remember that no man 
loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other 
than this which he now loses. The longest and shortest are thus 
brought to the same. For the present is the same to all, though that 
which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be 
a mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the 
future: for what a man has not, how can any one take this from him ? 
These two things then thou must bear in mind: the one, that all 
things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, 
and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same 
things during a hundred years or two hundred, or an infinite time; 
and the second, that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose 
just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can 
be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, 
and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not. 

15. Remember that all is opinion. For what was said by the Cynic 


Monimus is manifest: and manifest too is the use of what was said, 
if a man receives what may be got out of it as far as it is true. 

i6. The soul of man does violence to itself, first of all when it 
becomes an abscess and, as it were, a tumour on the universe, so far 
as it can. For to be vexed at anything which happens is a separation 
of ourselves from nature, in some part of which the natures of all 
other things are contained. In the next place, the soul does violence 
to itself when it turns away from any man, or even moves towards 
him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls of those who 
are angry. In the third place, the soul does violence to itself when 
it is overpowered by pleasure or by pain. Fourthly, when it plays a 
part, and does or says anything insincerely and untruly. Fifthly, 
when it allows any act of its own and any movement to be without an 
aim, and does anything thoughtlessly and without considering what 
it is, it being right that even the smallest things be done with refer- 
ence to an end; and the end of rational animals is to follow the rea- 
son and the law of the most ancient city and polity. 

17. Of human life the time is a pnaint, and the substance is in a flux, 
and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body sub- 
ject to putrefaction, and the soul of a whirl, and fortune hard to 
divine, and fame a thing devoid of judgment. And, to say all in a 
word, everything which belongs to the body is a stream, and what 
belongs to the soul is a dream and vapour, and life is a warfare and 
a stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion. What, then, is that 
which is able to conduct a man? One thing, and only one — philoso- 
phy. But this consists in keeping the dxmon within a man free from 
violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing noth- 
ing without a purpose, nor yet falsely and with hyjxxrisy, not feeling 
the need of another man's doing or not doing anything; and besides, 
accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from 
thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, 
waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than 
a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is com- 
pounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each 
continually changing into another, why should a man have any ap- 
prehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements ? For 


it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to 
This in Carnuntum. 


WE ought to consider not only that our life is daily wasting 
away and a smaller part of it is left, but another thing also 
must be taken into the account, that if a man should live 
longer it is quite uncertain whether the understanding will still con- 
tinue sufficient for the comprehension of things, and retain the power 
of contemplation which strives to acquire the knowledge of the 
divine and the human. For if he shall begin to fall into dotage, per- 
spiration and nutrition and imagination and appetite, and whatever 
else there is of the kind, will not fail; but the power of making use of 
ourselves, and filling up the measure of our duty, and clearly separ- 
ating all appearances, and considering whether a man should now 
depart from life, and whatever else of the kind absolutely requires 
a disciplined reason, all this is already extinguished. We must make 
haste then, not only because we are daily nearer to death, but also be- 
cause the conception of things and the understanding of them cease 

2, We ought to observe also that even the things which follow after 
the things which are produced according to nature contain something 
pleasing and attractive. For instance, when bread is baked some parts 
are split at the surface, and these parts which thus open, and have a 
certain fashion contrary to the purpose of the baker's art, are beautiful 
in a manner, and in a peculiar way excite a desire for eating. And 
again, figs, when they are quite ripe, gape open, and in the ripe oUves 
the very circumstance of their being near to rottenness adds a peculiar 
beauty to the fruit. And the ears of corn bending down, and the 
lion's eyebrows, and the foam which flows from the mouth of wild 
boars, and many other things — though they are far from being beau- 
tiful, if a man should examine them severally — still, because they are 
consequent upon the things which are formed by nature, help to 
adorn them, and they please the mind; so that if a man should have 
a feeling and deeper insight with respect to the things which are 


produced in the universe, there is hardly one of those which follow 
by way of consequence which will not seem to him to be in a manner 
disposed so as to give pleasure. And so he will see even the real gap- 
ing jaws of wild beasts with no less pleasure than those which 
painters and sculptors show by imitation; and in an old woman and 
an old man he will be able to see a certain maturity and comeliness; 
and the attractive loveliness of young persons he will be able to look 
on with chaste eyes; and many such things will present themselves, 
not pleasing to every man, but to him only who has become truly 
familiar with nature and her works. 

3. Hippocrates after curing many diseases himself fell sick and 
died. The Chaldii foretold the deaths of many, and then fate caught 
them too. Alexander, and Pompeius, and Caius Cxsar, after so often 
completely destroying whole cities, and in battle cutting to pieces 
many ten thousands of cavalry and infantry, themselves too at last 
departed from life. Heraclitus, after so many speculations on the 
conflagration of the universe, was filled with water internally and 
died smeared all over with mud. And lice destroyed Democritus; 
and other lice killed Socrates. What means all this? Thou hast em- 
barked, thou hast made the voyage, thou art come to shore; get out. 
If indeed to another life, there is no want of gods, not even there. But 
if to a state without sensation, thou wilt cease to be held by pains and 
pleasures, and to be a slave to the vessel which is as much inferior as 
that which serves it is superior; for the one is intelligence and deity; 
the other is earth and corruption. 

4. Do not waste the remainder of thy life in thoughts about others, 
when thou dost not refer thy thoughts to some object of common util- 
ity. For thou losest the opportunity of doing something else when 
thou hast such thoughts as these, What is such a person doing, and 
why, and what is he saying, and what is he thinking of, and what is 
he contriving, and whatever else of the kind makes us wander away 
from the observation of our own ruling power. We ought then to 
check in the series of our thoughts everything that is without a pur- 
pose and useless, but most of all the overcurious feeling and the 
malignant; and a man should use himself to think of those things 
only about which if one should suddenly ask. What hast thou now 
in thy thoughts? with perfect openness thou mightest immediately 


answer, This or That; so that from thy words it should be plain that 
everything in thee is simple and benevolent, and such as befits a 
social animal, one that cares not for thoughts about pleasure or sen- 
sual enjoyments at all, nor has any rivalry or envy and suspicion, or 
anything else for which thou wouldst blush if thou shouldst say that 
thou hadst it in thy mind. For the man who is such and no longer 
delays being among the number of the best, is like a priest and min- 
ister of the gods, using too the [deity] which is planted within him, 
which makes the man uncontaminated by pleasure, unharmed by 
any pain, untouched by any insult, feeling no wrong, a fighter in the 
noblest fight, one who cannot be overpowered by any passion, dyed 
deep with justice, accepting with all his soul everything which ha{>- 
pens and is assigned to him as his portion; and not often, nor yet with- 
out great necessity and for the general interest, imagining what 
another says, or does, or thinks. For it is only what belongs to himself 
that he makes the matter for his activity; and he constantly thinks of 
that which is allotted to himself out of the sum total of things, and he 
makes his own acts fair, and he is persuaded that his own portion is 
good. For the lot which is assigned to each man is carried along 
with him and carries him along with it. And he remembers also that 
every rational animal is his kinsman, and that to care for all men is 
according to man's nature; and a man should hold on to the opinion 
not of all but of those only who confessedly live according to nature. 
But as to those who live not so, he always bears in mind what kind 
of men they are both at home and from home, both by night and by 
day, and what they are, and with what men they live an impure life. 
Accordingly, he does not value at all the praise which comes from 
such men, since they are not even satisfied with themselves. 

5. Labour not unwillingly, nor without regard to the common 
interest, nor without due consideration, nor with distraction; nor 
let studied ornament set off thy thoughts, and be not either a man 
of many words, or busy about too many things. And further, let the 
deity which is in thee be the guardian of a living being, manly and 
of ripe age, and engaged in matter political, and a Roman, and a 
ruler, who has taken his post like a man waiting for the signal which 
summons him from life, and ready to go, having need neither of 
oath nor of any man's testimony. Be cheerful also, and seek not 


external help nor the tranquillity which others give. A man then 
must stand erect, not be kept erect by others. 

6. If thou findest in human life anything better than justice, truth, 
tempjerance, fortitude, and, in a word, anything better than thy own 
mind's self-satisfaction in the things which it enables thee to do ac- 
cording to right reason, and in the condition that is assigned to thee 
without thy own choice; if, I say, thou seest anything better than this, 
turn to it with all thy soul, and enjoy that which thou hast found to 
be the best. But if nothing appears to be better than the deity which 
is planted in thee, which has subjected to itself all thy appetites, 
and carefully examines all the impressions, and, as Socrates said, has 
detached itself from the persuasions of sense, and has submitted itself 
to the gods, and cares for mankind; if thou findest everything else 
smaller and of less value than this, give place to nothing else, for if 
thou dost once diverge and incline to it, thou wilt no longer without 
distraction be able to give the preference to that good thing which 
is thy proper possession and thy own; for it is not right that anything 
of any other kind, such as praise from the many, or power, or enjoy- 
ment of pleasure, should come into competition with that which is 
rationally and politically [or, practically] good. All these things, even 
though they may seem to adapt themselves [to the better things] in a 
small degree, obtain the superiority all at once, and carry us away. 
But do thou, I say, simply and freely choose the better, and hold to 
it. — But that which is useful is the better. — Well then, if it is only use- 
ful to thee as a rational being, keep to it; but if it is only useful to thee 
as an animal, say so, and maintain thy judgment without arrogance; 
only take care that thou makest the inquiry by a sure method. 

7. Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel 
thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to 
susf)ect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything which needs 
walls and curtains: for he who has preferred to everything else his 
own intelligence and dxmon and the worship of its excellence, acts no 
tragic part, does not groan, will not need either solitude or much 
company; and, what is chief of all, he will live without either pur- 
suing or flying from [death]; but whether for a longer or a shorter 
time he shall have the soul inclosed in the body, he cares not at all; 
for even if he must depart immediately, he will go as readily as if he 


were going to do anything else which can be done with decency and 
order; taking care of this only all through life, that his thoughts 
turn not away from anything which belongs to an intelligent animal 
and a member of a civil community. 

8. In the mind of one who is chastened and purified thou wilt find 
no corrupt matter, nor impurity, nor any sore skinned over. Nor is 
his life incomplete when fate overtakes him, as one may say of an 
actor who leaves the stage before ending and finishing the play. 
Besides, there is in him nothing servile, nor affected, nor too closely 
bound [to other things], nor yet detached [from other things], noth- 
ing worthy of blame, nothing which seeks a hiding-place. 

9. Reverence the faculty which produces opinion. On this faculty 
it entirely depends whether there shall exist in thy ruling part any 
opinion inconsistent with nature and the constitution of the rational 
animal. And this faculty promises freedom from hasty judgment, 
and friendship towards men, and obedience to the gods. 

10. Throwing away then all things, hold to these only which are 
few; and besides bear in mind that every man lives only this present 
time, which is an indivisible point, and that all the rest of his life is 
either past or it is uncertain. Short then is the time which every man 
lives, and small the nook of the earth where he lives; and short too 
the longest posthumous fame, and even this only concinued by a suc- 
cession of poor human beings, who will very soon die, and who know 
not even themselves, much less him who died long ago. 

11. To the aids which have been mentioned let this one still be 
added: — Make for thyself a definition or description of the thing 
which is presented to thee, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing 
it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety, and tell thy- 
self its proper name, and the names of the things of which it has been 
compounded, and into which it will be resolved. For nothing is so 
productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine method- 
ically and truly every object which is presented to thee in life, and 
always to look at things so as to see at the same time what kind of 
universe this is, and what kind of use everything performs in it, and 
what value everything has with reference to the whole, and what 
with reference to man, who is a citizen of the highest city, of which 
all other cities are like families; what each thing is, and of what it 


is composed, and how long it is the nature of this thing to endure 
which now makes an impression on me, and what virtue I have 
need of with respect to it, such as gentleness, manliness, truth, fidel- 
ity, simplicity, contentment, and the rest. Wherefore, on every occa- 
sion a man should say: This comes from God; and this is according 
to the apportionment and spinning of the thread of destiny, and 
suchlike coincidence and chance; and this is from one of the same 
stock and a kinsman and partner, one who knows not however what 
is according to his nature. But I know; for this reason I behave 
towards him according to the natural law of fellowship with benev- 
olence and justice. At the same time however in things indifferent 
I attempt to ascertain the value of each. 

12. If thou workest at that which is before thee, following right 
reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else 
to distract thee, but keeping thy divine part pure, as if thou shouldst 
be bound to give it back immediately; if thou boldest to this, expect- 
ing nothing, fearing nothing, but satisfied with thy present activity 
according to nature, and with heroic truth in every word and sound 
which thou utterest, thou wilt live happy. And there is no man who 
IS able to prevent this. 

13. As physicians have always their instruments and knives ready 
for cases which suddenly require their skill, so do thou have prin- 
ciples ready for the understanding of things divine and human, and 
doing everything, even the smallest, with a recollection of the bond 
which unites the divine and human to one another. For neither wilt 
thou do anything well which pertains to man without at the same 
time having a reference to things divine; nor the contrary. 

14. No longer wander at hazard; for neither wilt thou read thy 
own memoirs, nor the acts of the ancient Romans and Hellenes, and 
the selections from books which thou wast reserving for thy old age. 
Hasten then to the end which thou hast before thee, and, throwing 
away idle hopes, come to thy own aid, if thou carest at all for thy- 
sdf, while it is in thy power. 

15. They know not how many things are signified by the words 
stealing, sowing, buying, keeping quiet, seeing what ought to be 
done; for this is not effected by the eyes, but by another kind of 


16. Body, soul, intelligence: to the body belong sensations, to the 
soul appetites, to the intelligence principles. To receive the impres- 
sions of forms by means of appearances belongs even to animals; to 
be pulled by the strings of desire belongs both to wild beasts and 
to men who have made themselves into women, and to a Phalaris and 
a Nero: and to have the intelligence that guides to the things which 
appear suitable belongs also to those who do not believe in the gods, 
and who betray their country, and do their impure deeds when they 
have shut the doors. If then everything else is common to all that I 
have mentioned, there remains that which is peculiar to the good 
man, to be pleased and content with what happens, and with the 
thread which is spun for him; and not to defile the divinity which is 
planted in his breast, nor disturb it by a crowd of images, but to pre- 
serve it tranquil, following it obediendy as a god, neither saying any- 
thing contrary to the truth, nor doing anything contrary to justice. 
And if all men refuse to believe that he lives a simple, modest, and 
contented life, he is neither angry with any of them, nor does he devi- 
ate from the way which leads to the end of life, to which a man ought 
to come pure, tranquil, ready to depart, and without any compulsion 
perfecdy reconciled to his lot. 


THAT which rules within, when it is according to nature, 
is so affected with respect to the events which happen, that 
it always easily adapts itself to that which is possible and is 
presented to it. For it requires no definite material, but it moves 
towards its purpose, under certain conditions however; and it makes 
a material for itself out of that which opposes it, as fire lays hold of 
what falls into it, by which a small light would have been extin- 
guished: but when the fire is strong, it soon appropriates to itself 
the matter which is heaped on it, and consumes it, and rises higher 
by means of this very material. 

2. Let no act be done without a purpose, nor otherwise than accord- 
ing to the perfect principles of art. 

3. Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea- 
shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things 


very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort 
of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire 
into thyself. For nowhere, either with more quiet or more freedom 
from trouble, does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly 
when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he 
is immediately in perfect tranquillity; and I affirm that tranquillity is 
nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then 
give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles 
be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, 
will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back 
free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest. For 
with what art thou discontented? With the badness of men ? Recall 
to thy mind this conclusion, that rational animals exist for one 
another, and that to endure is a part of justice, and that men do 
wrong involuntarily; and consider how many already, after mutual 
enmity, suspicion, hatred, and fighting, have been stretched dead, 
reduced to ashes; and be quiet at last. — But perhaps thou art dissatis- 
fied with that which is assigned to thee out of the universe. — Recall 
to thy recollection this alternative; either there is providence or atoms 
[fortuitous concurrence of things]; or remember the arguments by 
which it has been proved that the world is a kind of political com- 
munity [and be quiet at last]. — But perhaps corporeal things will 
still fasten uf)on thee. — Consider then further that the mind mingles 
not with the breath, whether moving gently or violently, when it 
has once drawn itself apart and discovered its own power, and think 
also of all that thou hast heard and assented to about pain and 
pleasure [and be quiet at last]. — But perhaps the desire of the thing 
called fame will torment thee. — See how soon everything is forgotten, 
and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of [the present], 
and the emptiness of applause, and the changeableness and want of 
judgment in those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness 
of the space within which it is circumscribed [and be quiet at last]. 
For the whole earth is a point, and how small a nook in it is this 
thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, and what kind of people 
are they who will praise thee. 

This then remains: Remember to retire into this little territory of 
thy own, and, above all, do not distract or strain thyself, but be 


free, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as 
a mortal. But among the things readiest to thy hand to which thou 
shalt turn, let there be these, which are two. One is that things do 
not touch the soul, for they are external and remain immovable; but 
our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within. The 
other is that all these things, which thou seest, change immediately 
and will no longer be; and constantly bear in mind how many of 
these changes thou hast already witnessed. The universe is trans- 
formation : life is opinion. 

4. If our intellectual part is common, the reason also, in respect 
of which we are rational beings, is common : if this is so, common also 
is the reason which commands us what to do, and what not to do; if 
this is so, there is a common law also; if this is so, we are fellow- 
citizens; if this is so, we are members of some political community; 
if this is so, the world is in a manner a state. For of what other 
common political community will any one say that the whole human 
race are members? And from thence, from this common political 
community comes also our very intellectual faculty and reasoning 
faculty and our capacity for law; or whence do they come.? For as 
my earthly part is a portion given to me from certain earth, and that 
which is watery from another element, and that which is hot and 
fiery from some peculiar source (for nothing comes out of that which 
is nothing, as nothing also returns to non-existence), so also the 
intellectual part comes from some source. 

5. Death is such as generation is, a mystery of nature; a composi- 
tion out of the same elements, and a decomposition into the same; 
and altogether not a thing of which any man should be ashamed, for 
it is not contrary to [the nature of] a reasonable animal, and not con- 
trary to the reason of our constitution. 

6. It is natural that these things should be done by such persons, 
it is a matter of necessity; and if a man will not have it so, he will 
not allow the fig-tree to have juice. But by all means bear this in 
mind, that within a very short time both thou and he will be dead; 
and soon not even your names will be left behind. 

7. Take away thy opinion, and then there is taken away the com- 
plaint, "I have been harmed." Take away the complaint, "I have been 
harmed," and the harm is taken away. 


8. That which does not make a man worse than he was, also does 
not make his hfe worse, nor does it harm him either from without or 
from within. 

9. The nature of that which is [universally] useful has been com- 
pelled to do this. 

JO. Consider that everything which happens, happens justly, and 
if thou observest carefully, thou wilt find it to be so. I do not say 
only with respect to the continuity of the series of things, but with 
respect to what is just, and as if it were done by one who assigns to 
each thing its value. Observe then as thou hast begun; and what- 
ever thou doest, do it in conjunaion with this, the being good, and 
in the sense in which a man is properly understood to be good. 
Keep to this in every action. 

11. Do not have such an opinion of things as he has who does thee 
wrong, or such as he wishes thee to have, but look at them as they 
are in truth. 

12. A man should always have these two rules in readiness; the one, 
to do only whatever the reason of the ruling and legislating faculty 
may suggest for the use of men; the other, to change thy opinion, if 
there is any one at hand who sets thee right and moves thee from 
any opinion. But this change of opinion must proceed only from a 
certain persuasion, as of what is just or of common advantage, and 
the like, not because it appears pleasant or brings reputation. 

13. Hast thou reason? I have. — Why then dost not thou use it? 
For if this does its own work, what else dost thou wish ? 

14. Thou hast existed as a part. Thou shalt disappear in that 
which produced thee; but rather thou shalt be received back into 
its seminal principle by transmutation. 

15. Many grains of frankincense on the same altar: one falls 
before, another falls after; but it makes no difference. 

16. Within ten days thou wilt seem a god to those to whom thou 
art now a beast and an ape, if thou wilt return to thy principles and 
the worship of reason. 

17. Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. 
Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, 
be good. 

18. How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what 


his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to what he does him- 
self, that it may be just and pure; or, as Agathon says, look not 
round at the depraved morals of others, but run straight along the 
line without deviating from it. 

19. He who has a vehement desire for posthumous fame does 
not consider that every one of those who remember him will him- 
self also die very soon; then again also they who have succeeded 
them, until the whole remembrance shall have been extinguished 
as it is transmitted through men who foolishly admire and perish. 
But suppose that those who will remember are even immortal, and 
that the remembrance will be immortal, what then is this to thee? 
And I say not, what is it to the dead? but, what is it to the Uving? 
What is praise, except indeed so far as it has a certain utility? For 
thou now rejeaest unseasonably the gift of nature, clinging to 
something else. • . . 

20. Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, 
and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself. Neither 
worse then nor better is a thing made by being praised. I affirm 
this also of the things which are called beautiful by the vulgar; for 
example, material things and works of art. That which is really 
beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than 
truth, not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these things 
is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being blamed? Is 
such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if it is not 
praised? or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a little knife, a flower, a 

21. If souls continue to exist, how does the air contain them from 
eternity? — But how does the earth contain the bodies of those who 
have been buried from time so remote? For as here the mutation 
of these bodies after a certain continuance, whatever it may be, and 
their dissolution make room for other dead bodies; so the souls which 
are removed into the air after subsisting for some time are trans- 
muted and diffused, and assume a fiery nature by being received 
into the seminal intelhgence of the universe, and in this way make 
room for the fresh souls which come to dwell there. And this is 
the answer which a man might give on the hypothesis of souls con- 
tinuing to exist. But we must not only think of the number of 


bodies which are thus buried, but also of the number o£ animals 
which are daily eaten by us and the other animals. For what a num- 
ber is consumed, and thus in a manner buried in the bodies of 
those who feed on them! And nevertheless this earth receives them 
by reason of the changes [of these bodies] into blood, and the trans- 
formations into the aerial or the fiery element. 

What is the investigation into the truth in this matter? The 
division into that which is material and that which is the cause of 
form [the formal] (vii. 29). 

22. Do not be whirled about, but in every movement have respect 
to justice, and on the occasion of every impression maintain the 
faculty of comprehension [or understanding]. 

23. Everything harmonizes with me which is harmonious to thee, 
O Universe. Nothing for me is too early nor too late, which is in 
due time for thee. Everything is fruit to me which thy seasons 
bring, O Nature: from thee are all things, in thee are all things, to 
thee all things return. The poet says, Dear city of Cecrops; and wilt 
not thou say, Dear city of Zeus? 

24. Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, if thou 
wouldst be tranquil. — But consider if it would not be better to say. 
Do what is necessary, and whatever the reason of the animal which 
is naturally social requires, and as it requires. For this brings not 
only the tranquillity which comes from doing well, but also that 
which comes from doing few things. For the greatest part of what 
we say and do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will 
have more leisure and less uneasiness. Accordingly on every occa- 
sion a man should ask himself. Is this one of the unnecessary 
things? Now a man should take away not only unnecessary acts 
but also unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not 
follow after. 

25. Try how the life of the good man suits thee, the life of him 
who is satisfied with his portion out of the whole, and satisfied with 
his own just acts and benevolent disposition. 

26. Hast thou seen those things? Look also at these. Do not 
disturb thyself. Make thyself all simplicity. Does any one do wrong? 
It is to himself that he does the wrong. Has anything hapjjened 
to thee? Well, out of the universe from the beginning everything 


which happens has been apportioned and spun out to thee. In a 
word, thy life is short. Thou must turn to profit the present by the 
aid of reason and justice. Be sober in thy relaxation. 

27. Either it is a well arranged universe or a chaos huddled 
together, but still a universe. But can a certain order subsist in thee, 
and disorder in the All? And this, too, when all things are so 
separated and diffused and sympathetic. 

28. A black character, a womanish character, a stubborn character, 
bestial, childish, animal, stupid, counterfeit, scurrilous, fraudulent, 

29. If he is a stranger to the universe who does not know what 
is in it, no less is he a stranger who does not know what is going 
on in it. He is a runaway, who flies from social reason; he is blind, 
who shuts the eyes of the understanding; he is poor, who has need 
of another, and has not from himself all things which are useful for 
life. He is an abscess on the universe, who withdraws and separates 
himself from the reason of our common nature through being 
displeased with the things which happen, for the same nature pro- 
duces this, and has produced thee too; he is a piece rent asunder 
from the state, who tears his own soul from that of reasonable 
animals, which is one. 

30. The one is a philosopher without a tunic, and the other with- 
out a book: here is another half naked: Bread I have not, he says, 
and I abide by reason. And I do not get the means of living out 
of my learning, and I abide [by my reason]. 

31. Love the art, poor as it may be, which thou hast learned, and 
be content with it; and pass through the rest of life like one who 
has intrusted to the gods with his whole soul all that he has, making 
thyself neither the tyrant nor the slave of any man. 

32. Consider, for example, the times of Vespasian. Thou wilt see 
all these things, people marrying, bringing up children, sick, dying, 
warring, feasting, trafficking, cultivating the ground, flattering, 
obstinately arrogant, suspecting, plotting, wishing for some to die, 
grumbling about the present, loving, heaping up treasure, desiring 
consulship, kingly power. Well, then, that life of these people no 
longer exists at all. Again, remove to the times of Trajan. Again, 
all is the same. Their life, too, is gone. In like manner view also 


the other epochs of time and of whole nations, and see how many 
after great efforts soon fell and were resolved into the elements. 
But chiefly thou shouldst think of those whom thou hast thyself 
known distracting themselves about idle things, neglecting to do 
what was in accordance with their proper constitution, and to hold 
firmly to this and to be content with it. And herein it is necessary 
to remember that the attention given to everything has its proper 
value and proportion. For thus thou wilt not be dissatisfied, if thou 
appliest thyself to smaller matters no fiuther than is fit. 

33. The words which were formerly familiar are now antiquated; 
so also the names of those who were famed of old, are now in a man- 
ner antiquated: Camillus, Cacso, Volesus, Leonnatus, and a Uttle 
after also Scipio and Cato, then Augustus, then also Hadrianus and 
Antoninus. For all things soon pass away and become a mere tale, 
and complete oblivion soon buries them. And I say this of those who 
have shone in a wondrous way. For the rest, as soon as they have 
breathed out their breath, they are gone, and no man speaks of them. 
And, to conclude the matter, what is even an eternal remembrance.' 
A mere nothing. What, then, is that about which we ought to 
employ our serious pains? This one thing, thoughts just, and acts 
social, and words which never Ue, and a disposition which gladly 
accepts all that happens, as necessary, as usual, as flowing from a 
principle and source of the same kind. 

34. Willingly give thyself up to Clotho [one of the fates], allow- 
ing her to spin thy thread into whatever things she pleases. 

35. Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers 
and that which is remembered. 

36. Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and 
accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves 
nothing so much as to change the things which are and to make new 
things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed 
of that which will be. But thou art thinking only of seeds which 
are cast into the earth or into a womb: but this is a very vulgar notion. 

37. Thou wilt soon die, and thou art not yet simple, nor free from 
perturbations, nor without suspicion of being hurt by external things, 
nor kindly disposed towards all; nor dost thou yet place wisdom 
only in acting justly. 


38. Examine men's ruling principles, even those of the wise, what 
kind of things they avoid, and what kind they pursue. 

39. What is evil to thee does not subsist in the ruling principle of 
another; nor yet in any turning and mutation of thy corporeal cover- 
ing. Where is it then? It is in that part of thee in which subsists 
the power of forming opinions about evils. Let this power then not 
form [such J opinions, and all is well. And if that which is nearest 
to it, the poor body, is cut, burnt, filled with matter and rottenness, 
nevertheless let the part which forms opinions about these things be 
quiet, that is, let it judge that nothing is either bad or good which 
can happen equally to the bad man and the good. For that which 
happens equally to him who lives contrary to nature and to him who 
lives according to nature, is neither according to nature nor con- 
trary to nature. 

40. Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one 
substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference 
to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how 
all things act with one movement; and how all things are the co- 
operating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous 
spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web. 

41. Thou art a little soul bearing about a corpse, as Epictetus 
used to say (i. c. 19). 

42. It is no evil for things to undergo change, and no good for 
things to subsist in consequence of change. 

43. Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, 
and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried 
away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away 

44. Everything which happens is as familiar and well known as 
the rose in spring and the fruit in summer; for such is disease, and 
death, and calumny, and treachery, and whatever else delights fools 
or vexes them. 

45. In the series of things those which follow are always aptly fitted 
to those which have gone before; for this series is not like a mere 
enumeration of disjointed things, which has only a necessary 
sequence, but it is a rational connection: and as all existing things 
are arranged together harmoniously, so the things which come into 


existence exhibit no mere succession, but a certain wonderful relation- 
ship (vi. 38; vii. 9; vii. 75, note). 

46. Always remember the saying of Heraclitus, that the death of 
earth is to become water, and the death of water is to become air, 
and the death of air is to become fire, and reversely. And think too 
of him who forgets whither the way leads, and that men quarrel 
with that with which they are most constantly in communion, the 
reason which governs the universe; and the things which they daily 
meet with seem to them strange: and consider that we ought not to 
act and speak as if we were asleep, for even in sleep we seem to act 
and speak; and that we ought not, like children who learn from 
their parents, simply to act and speak as we have been taught. 

47. If any god told thee that thou shalt die to-morrow, or certainly 
on the day after to-morrow, thou wouldst not care much whether it 
was on the third day or on the morrow, unless thou wast in the 
highest degree mean-spirited — for how small is the difference? — 
so think it no great thing to die after as many years as thou canst 
name rather than to-morrow. 

48. Think continually how many physicians are dead after often 
contracting their eyebrows over the sick; and how many astrologers 
after predicting with great pretensions the deaths of others; and how 
many philosophers after endless discourses on death or immortality; 
how many heroes after killing thousands; and how many tyrants 
who have used their power over men's lives with terrible insolence 
as if they were immortal; and how many cities are entirely dead, so 
to speak, Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and others innumer- 
able. Add to the reckoning all whom thou hast known, one after 
another. One man after burying another has been laid out dead, 
and another buries him; and all this in a short time. To conclude, 
always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are, 
and what was yesterday a little mucus, to-morrow will be a mummy 
or ashes. Pass then through this little space of time conformably 
to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off 
when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the 
tree on which it grew. 

49. Be like the promontory against which the waves continually 
break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it. 


Unhappy am I, because this has happened to me. — Not so, but 
Happy am I, though this has happened to me, because I continue free 
from pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future. 
For such a thing as this might have happened to every man; but 
every man would not have continued free from pain on such an 
occasion. Why, then, is that rather a misfortune than this a good 
fortune? And dost thou in all cases call that a man's misfortune, 
which is not a deviation from man's nature? And does a thing seem 
to thee to be a deviation from man's nature, when it is not contrary 
to the will of man's nature? Well, thou knowest the will of nature. 
Will then this which has hapjjened prevent thee from being just, 
magnanimous, temperate, prudent, secure against inconsiderate 
opinions and falsehood; will it prevent thee from having modesty, 
freedom, and everything else, by the presence of which man's nature 
obtains all that is its own? Remember, too, on every occasion which 
leads thee to vexation to apply this principle: not that this is a mis- 
fortune, but that to bear it nobly is good fortune. 

50. It is a vulgar but still a useful help towards contempt of death, 
to pass in review those who have tenaciously stuck to life. What 
more then have they gained than those who have died early? Cer- 
tainly they lie in their tombs somewhere at last, Cadicianus, Fabius, 
Julianus, Lepidus, or any one else like them, who have carried out 
many to be buried, and then were carried out themselves. Alto- 
gether the interval is small [between birth and death]; and con- 
sider with how much trouble, and in company with what sort of 
people, and in what a feeble body this interval is laboriously passed. 
Do not then consider life a thing of any value. For look to the 
immensity of time behind thee, and to the time which is before 
thee, another boundless space. In this infinity then what is the 
difference between him who lives three days and him who lives 
three generations? 

51. Always run to the short way; and the short way is the natural: 
accordingly say and do everything in conformity with the soundest 
reason. For such a purpose frees a man from trouble, and warfare, 
and all artifice and ostentatious display. 


IN THE morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought 
be present — I am rising to the work of a human being. Why 
then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which 
I exist and for which I was brought into the world ? Or have I been 
made for this, to lie in the bedclothes and keep myself warm? — But 
this is more pleasant. — Dost thou exist then to take thy pleasure, and 
not at all for action or exertion ? Dost thou not see the little plants, 
the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put 
in order their several parts of the universe ? And art thou unwilling 
to do the work of a human being, and dost thou not make haste to 
do that which is according to thy nature? — But it is necessary to take 
rest also. — It is necessary: however nature has fixed bounds to this 
too: she has fixed bounds both to eating and drinking, and yet thou 
goest beyond these bounds, beyond what is sufficient; yet in thy acts 
it is not so, but thou stoppest short of what thou canst do. So thou 
lovest not thyself, for if thou didst, thou wouldst love thy nature and 
her will. But those who love their several arts exhaust themselves 
in working at them unwashed and without food; but thou valuest 
thy own nature less than the turner values the turning art, or the 
dancer the dancing art, or the lover of money values his money, or 
the vainglorious man his little glory. And such men, when they 
have a violent affection to a thing, choose neither to eat nor to 
sleep rather than to perfect the things which they care for. But are 
the acts which concern society more vile in thy eyes and less worthy 
of thy labour? 

2. How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impression 
which is troublesome or unsuitable, and immediately to be in all 

3. Judge every word and deed which are according to nature to 
be fit for thee; and be not diverted by the blame which follows from 
any people, nor by their words, but if a thing is good to be done or 
said, do not consider it unworthy of thee. For those persons have 
their peculiar leading principle and follow their peculiar movement; 
which things do not thou regard, but go straight on, following thy 
own nature and the common nature; and the way of both is one. 


4. I go through the things which happen according to nature until 
I shall fall and rest, breathing out my breath into that element out 
of which I daily draw it in, and falling upon that earth out of which 
my father collected the seed, and my mother the blood, and my 
nurse the milk; out of which during so many years I have been sup- 
plied with food and drink; which bears me when I tread on it and 
abuse it for so many purposes. 

5. Thou sayest, men cannot admire the sharpness of thy wits. — 
Be it so; but there are many other things of which thou canst not 
say, I am not formed for them by nature. Show those qualities then 
which are altogether in thy power: sincerity, gravity, endurance of 
labour, aversion to pleasure, contentment with thy (xirtion and with 
few things, benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom 
from trifling magnanimity. Dost thou not see how many quaUties 
thou art immediately able to exhibit, in which there is no excuse of 
natural incapacity and unfitness, and yet thou still remainest volun- 
tarily below the mark? or art thou compelled through being defec- 
tively furnished by nature to murmur, and to be stingy, and to flatter, 
and to find fault with thy poor body, and to try to please men, and 
to make great display, and to be restless in thy mind ? No, by the 
gods: but thou mightest have been delivered from these things long 
ago. Only if in truth thou canst be charged with being rather slow 
and dull of comprehension, thou must exert thyself about this also, 
not neglecting it nor yet taking pleasure in thy dullness. 

6. One man, when he has done a service to another, is ready to 
set it down to his account as a favour conferred. Another is not 
ready to do this, but still in his own mind he thinks of the man as 
his debtor, and he knows what he has done. A third in a manner 
does not even know what he has done, but he is like a vine which has 
produced grapes, and seeks for nothing more after it has once pro- 
duced its proper fruit. As a horse when he has run, a dog when he 
has tracked the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man 
when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come 
and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce 
again the grapes in season. — Must a man then be one of these, who in 
a manner act thus without observing it? — Yes. — But this very thing 
is necessary, the observation of what a man is doing; for it may be 


said, it is characteristic of the social animal to perceive that he is 
working in a social manner, and indeed to wish that his social partner 
also should perceive it. — It is true what thou sayest, but thou dost 
not rightly understand what is now said; and for this reason thou 
wilt become one of those of whom I spoke before, for even they are 
misled by a certain show of reason. But if thou wilt choose to 
understand the meaning of what is said, do not fear that for this 
reason thou wilt omit any social act. 

7, A prayer of the Athenians: Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, down on 
the plowed fields of the Athenians and on the plains. — In truth we 
ought not to pray at all, or we ought to pray in this simple and 
noble fashion. 

8. Just as we must understand when it is said. That yEsculapius 
prescribed to this man horse-exercise, or bathing in cold water, or 
going without shoes, so we must understand it when it is said, 
That the nature of the universe prescribed to this man disease or 
mutilation or loss or anything else of the kind. For in the first 
case prescribed means something like this: he prescribed this for this 
man as a thing adapted to procure health; and in the second case it 
means. That which happens to [or suits] every man is fixed in a 
manner for him suitably to his destiny. For this is what we mean 
when we say that things are suitable to us, as the workmen say of 
squared stones in walls or the pyramids, that they are suitable, when 
they fit them to one another in some kind of connection. For there 
is altogether one fitness [harmony]. And as the universe is made 
up out of all bodies to be such a body as it is, so out of all existing 
causes necessity [destiny] is made up to be such a cause as it is. 
And even those who are completely ignorant understand what I 
mean, for they say. It [necessity, destiny] brought this to such a 
person. — This then was brought and this was prescribed to him. 
Let us then receive these things, as well as those which ^sculapius 
prescribes. Many, as a matter of course, even among his prescrip- 
tions, are disagreeable, but we accept them in the hope of health. 
Let the perfecting and accomplishment of the things, which the 
common nature judges to be good, be judged by thee to be of the 
same kind as thy health. And so accept everything which happens. 


even if it seem disagreeable, because it leads to this, to the health of 
the universe and to the prosperity and felicity of Zeus [the universe]. 
For he would not have brought on any man what he has brought, if 
it were not useful for the whole. Neither does the nature of any- 
thing, whatever it may be, cause anything which is not suitable to 
that which is directed by it. For two reasons, then, it is right to be 
content with that which happens to thee; the one, because it was 
done for thee and prescribed for thee, and in a manner had reference 
to thee, originally from the most ancient causes spun with thy 
destiny; and the other, because even that which comes severally to 
every man is to the power which administers the universe a cause 
of felicity and perfection, nay even of its very continuance. For the 
integrity of the whole is mutilated, if thou cuttest off anything what- 
ever from the conjunction and the continuity either of the parts or 
of the causes. And thou dost cut off, as far as it is in thy power, when 
thou art dissatisfied, and in a manner triest to put anything out of 
the way. 

9. Be not disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied, if thou 
dost not succeed in doing everything according to right principles; 
but when thou hast failed, return back again, and be content if the 
greater part of what thou doest is consistent with man's nature, and 
love this to which thou returnest; and do not return to philosophy 
as if she were a master, but act like those who have sore eyes and 
apply a bit of sponge and egg, or as another applies a plaster, or 
drenching with water. For thus thou wilt not fail to obey reason and 
thou wilt refX)se in it. And remember that philosophy requires only 
the things which thy nature requires; but thou wouldst have some- 
thing else which is not according to nature. It may be objected, Why, 
what is more agreeable than this [which I am doing] ? But is not 
this the very reason why pleasure deceives us? And consider if 
magnanimity, freedom, simplicity, equanimity, piety are not more 
agreeable. For what is more agreeable than wisdom itself, when thou 
thinkest of the security and the happy course of all things which 
depend on the faculty of understanding and knowledge? 

10. Things are in such a kind of envelopment that they have 
seemed to philosophers, not a few nor those common philosophers, 


altogether unintelligible; nay even to the Stoics themselves they seem 
difficult to understand. And all our assent is changeable; for where 
is the man who never changes? Carry thy thoughts then to the 
objects themselves, and consider how short-lived they are and worth- 
less, and that they may be in the possession of a filthy wretch or a 
whore or a robber. Then turn to the morals of those who live with 
thee, and it is hardly possible to endure even the most agreeable of 
them, to say nothing of a man being hardly able to endure himself. 
In such darkness, then, and dirt, and in so constant a flux, both of 
substance and of time, and of motion, and of things moved, what 
there is worth being highly prized, or even an object of serious pur- 
suit, I cannot imagine. But on the contrary it is a man's duty to 
comfort himself, and to wait for the natural dissolution and not to 
be vexed at the delay, but to rest in these principles only: the one^, 
that nothing will happen to me which is not conformable to the 
natiu'e of the universe; and the other, that it is in my power never 
to act contrary to my god and dxmoa: for there is no man who will 
compel me to this. 

11. About what am I now employing my own soul? On every 
occasion I must ask myself this question, and inquire, what have I 
now in this part of me which they call the ruling principle? and 
whose soul have I now ? that of a child, or of a young man, or of a 
feeble woman, or of a tyrant, or of a domestic animal, or of a wild 

12. What kind of things those are which appear good to the many, 
we may learn even from this. For if any man should conceive certain 
things as being really good, such as prudence, temperance, justice, 
fortitude, he would not after having first conceived these endure to 
listen to anything which should not be in harmony with what is 
really good. But if a man has first conceived as good the things which 
app)ear to the many to be good, he will listen and readily receive as 
very applicable that which was said by the comic writer. Thus even 
the many perceive the difference. For were it not so, this saying 
would not offend and would not be rejected fin the first case], 
while we receive it when it is said of wealth, and of the means which 
further luxury and fame, as said fitly and wittily. Go on then and 
ask if we should value and think those things to be good, to which 


after their first conception in the mind the words of the comic writer 
might be aptly applied — that he who has them, through pure abun- 
dance has not a place to ease himself in. 

13. I am composed of the formal and the material; and neither of 
them will perish into non-existence, as neither of them came into 
existence out of non-existence. Every part of me then will be reduced 
by change into some part of the universe, and that again will change 
into another part of the universe, and so on forever. And by con- 
sequence of such a change I too exist, and those who begot me, and 
so on forever in the other direction. For nothing hinders us from 
saying so, even if the universe is administered according to definite 
periods [of revolution]. 

14. Reason and the reasoning art [philosophy] are powers which 
are sufficient for themselves and for their own works. They move 
then from a first principle which is their own, and they make their 
way to the end which is proposed to them; and this is the reason why 
such aas are named Catorthoseis or right acts, which word signifies 
that they proceed by the right road. 

15. None of these things ought to be called a man's which do not 
belong to a man, as man. They are not required of a man, nor does 
man's nature promise them, nor are they the means of man's nature 
attaining its end. Neither then does the end of man lie in these 
things, nor yet that which aids to the accomplishment of this end, 
and that which aids toward this end is that which is good. Besides, 
if any of these things did belong to man, it would not be right for 
a man to despise them and to set himself against them; nor would 
a man be worthy of praise who showed that he did not want these 
things, nor would he who stinted himself in any of them be good, 
if indeed these things were good. But now the more of these things 
a man deprives himself of, or of other things like them, or even when 
he is deprived of any of them, the more patiently he endures the loss, 
just in the same degree he is a better man. 

16. Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the char- 
acter of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then 
with a continuous series of such thoughts as these: for instance, that 
where a man can live, there he can also live well. But he must live 
in a palace — well then, he can also live well in a palace. And again, 


consider that for whatever purpose each thing has been constituted, 
for this it has been constituted, and toward this it is carried; and its 
end is in that toward which it is carried; and where the end is, 
there also is the advantage and the good of each thing. Now the 
good for the reasonable animal is society; for that we are made for 
society has been shown above. Is it not plain that the inferior exist 
for the sake of the superior? but the things which have life are 
superior to those which have not life, and of those which have life 
the superior are those which have reason. 

17. To seek what is impossible is madness: and it is impossible that 
the bad should not do something of this kind. 

18. Nothing happens to any man which he is not formed by 
nature to bear. The same things happen to another, and either 
because he does not see that they have happened or because he would 
show a great spirit he is firm and remains unharmed. It is a shame 
then that ignorance and conceit should be stronger than wisdom. 

19. Things themselves touch not the soul, not in the least degree; 
nor have they admission to the soul, nor can they turn or move the 
soul: but the soul turns and moves itself alone, and whatever judg- 
ments it may think proper to make, such it makes for itself the things 
which present themselves to it. 

20. In one respect man is the nearest thing to me, so far as I 
must do good to men and endure them. But so far as some men 
make themselves obstacles to my proper acts, man becomes to me one 
of the things which are indifferent, no less than the sun or wind or 
a wild beast. Now it is true that these may impede my action, but 
they are no impediments to my affects and disposition, which have 
the power of acting conditionally and changing: for the mind con- 
verts and changes every hindrance to its activity into an aid; and 
so that which is a hindrance is made a furtherance to an act; and 
that which is an obstacle on the road helps us on this road. 

21. Reverence that which is best in the universe; and this is that 
which makes use of all things and directs all things. And in like 
manner also reverence that which is best in thyself; and this is of the 
same kind as that. For in thyself also, that which makes use of 
everything else, is this, and thy life is directed by this. 

22. That which does no harm to the state, does no harm to the 


citizen. In the case of every appearance of harm apply this rule: if 
the state is not harmed by this, neither am I harmed. But if the state 
is harmed, thou must not be angry with him who does harm to the 
state. Show him where his error is. 

23. Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and dis- 
appear, both the things which are and the things which are produced. 
For substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities 
of things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite 
varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still. And con- 
sider this which is near to thee, this boundless abyss of the past and 
of the future in which all things disappear. How then is he not a 
fool who is pufled up with such things or plagued about them or 
makes himself miserable? for they vex him only for a time, and a 
short time. 

24. Think of the universal substance, of which thou hast a very 
small portion; and of universal time, of which a short and indivisi- 
ble interval has been assigned to thee; and of that which is fixed by 
destiny, and how small a part of it thou art. 

25. Does another do me wrong .'' Let him look to it. He has his 
own disposition, his own activity. I now have what the universal 
nature wills me to have; and I do what my nature now wills me to do. 

26. Let the part of thy soul which leads and governs be undis- 
turbed by the movements in the flesh, whether of pleasure or of pain; 
and let it not unite with them, but let it circumscribe itself and Hmit 
those affects to their parts. But when these affects rise up to the 
mind by virtue of that other sympathy that naturally exists in a body 
which is all one, then thou must not strive to resist the sensation, 
for it is natural : but let not the ruling part of itself add to the sensa- 
tion the opinion that it is either good or bad. 

27. Live with the gods. And he does live with the gods who 
constantly shows to them that his own soul is satisfied with that 
which is assigned to him, and that it does all that the daemon wishes, 
which Zeus hath given to every man for his guardian and guide, a 
portion of himself. And this is every man's understanding and 

28. Art thou angry with him whose arm-pits stink? art thou 
angry with him whose mouth smells foul? What good will this 


anger do thee? He has such a mouth, he has such arm-pits: it is 
necessary that such an emanation must come from such things — 
but the man has reason, it will be said, and he is able, if he takes 
pains, to discover wherein he offends — I wish thee well of thy dis- 
covery. Well then, and thou hast reason: by thy rational faculty stir 
up his rational faculty; show him his error, admonish him. For if 
he listens, thou wilt cure him, and there is no need of anger. [Neither 
tragic actor nor whore.'] 

29. As thou intendest to live when thou are gone out, ... so it 
is in thy power to live here. But if men do not permit thee, then 
get away out of life, yet so as if thou wert suffering no harm. The 
house is smoky, and I quit it. Why dost thou think that this is any 
trouble? But so long as nothing of the kind drives me out, I remain, 
am free, and no man shall hinder me from doing what I choose; and 
I choose to do what is according to the nature of the rational and 
social animal. 

30. The intelligence of the universe is social. Accordingly it has 
made the inferior things for the sake of the superior, and it has fitted 
the superior to one another. Thou seest how it has subordinated, 
co-ordinated and assigned to everything its proper portion, and has 
brought together into concord with one another the things which 
are the best. 

31. How hast thou behaved hitherto to the gods, thy parents, 
brethren, children, teachers, to those who looked after thy infancy, 
to thy friends, kinsfolk, to thy slaves? Consider if thou hast hitherto 
behaved to all in such a way that this may be said of thee: 

Never has wronged a man in deed or word. 

And call to recollection both how many things thou hast passed 
through, and how many things thou hast been able to endure: and 
that the history of thy life is now complete, and thy service is ended: 
and how many beautiful things thou hast seen: and how many 
pleasures and pains thou hast despised; and how many things called 
honourable thou hast spurned; and to how many ill-minded folks 
thou hast shown a kind disposition. 

32. Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has 
skill and knowledge? What soul then has skill and knowledge? 

'This sentence is imperfect or corrupt, or both. 


That which knows beginning and end, and knows the reason which 
pervades all substance and through all time by fixed periods [revolu- 
tions] administers the universe. 

33. Soon, very soon, thou wilt be ashes, or a skeleton, and either 
a name or not even a name; but name is sound and echo, and the 
things which are much valued in life are empty and rotten and 
trifling, and [like] little dogs biting one another, and little children 
quarrelling, laughing, and then straightway weeping. But fidelity 
and modesty and justice and truth are fled 

Up to Olympus from the wide-spread earth. 

Hesiod. Worlds, etc., v. 197. 

What then is there which still detains thee here? if the objects of 
sense are easily changed and never stand still, and the organs of 
perception are dull and easily receive false impressions; and the poor 
soul itself is an exhalation from blood. But to have good repute amid 
such a world as this is an empty thing. Why then dost thou not wait 
in tranquillity for thy end, whether it is extinction or removal to 
another state? And until that time comes, what is sufficient? Why, 
what else than to venerate the gods and bless them, and to do good 
to men, and to practise tolerance and self-restraint; but as to every- 
thing which is beyond the limits of the poor flesh and breath, to 
remember that this is neither thine nor in thy power. 

34. Thou canst pass thy life in an equable flow of happiness, if 
thou canst go by the right way, and think and act in the right way. 
These two things are common both to the soul of God and to the 
soul of man, and to the soul of every rational being, not to be hin- 
dered by another; and to hold good to consist in the disposition to 
justice and the practice of it, and in this to let thy desire find its 

35. If this is neither my own badness, nor an effect of my own 
badness, and the common weal is not injured, why am I troubled 
about it? and what is the harm to the common weal? 

36. Do not be carried along inconsiderately by the appearance of 
things, but give help [to all] according to thy ability and their fit- 
ness; and if they should have sustained loss in matters which are 
indifferent, do tK)t imagine this to be a damage. For it is a bad 


habit. But as the old man, when he went away, asked back his 
foster<hild's top, remembering that it was a top, so do thou in this 
case also. 

When thou art calling out on the Rostra, hast thou forgotten, 
man, what these things are? Yes; but they are objects of great con- 
cern to these people — wilt thou too then be made a fool for these 
things? I was once a fortunate man, but I lost it, I know not 
how. But fortunate means that a man has assigned to himself a 
good fortune; and a good fortune is good disposition of the soul, 
good emotions, good actions. 


THE substance of the universe is obedient and compliant; 
and the reason which governs it has in itself no cause for 
doing evil, for it has no malice, nor does it do evil to any- 
thing, nor is anything harmed by it. But all things are made and 
perfected according to this reason. 

2. Let it make no difference to thee whether thou art cold or 
warm, if thou art doing thy duty ; and whether thou art drowsy or 
satisfied with sleep; and whether ill-spoken of or praised; and 
whether dying or doing something else. For it is one of the acts of 
this Hfe, this act by which we die; it is sufficient then in this act also 
to do well what we have in hand (vi. 22, 28). 

3. Look within. Let neither the peculiar quaUty of anything nor 
its value escape thee. 

4. All existing things soon change, and they vdll either be reduced 
to vapour, if indeed all substance is one, or they will be dispersed. 

5. The reason which governs knows what its own disposition is, 
and what it does, and on what material it works. 

6. The best way of avenging thyself is not to become Uke [the 

7. Take pleasure in one thing and rest in it, in passing from one 
social act to another social act, thinking of God. 

8. The ruling principle is that which rouses and turns itself, and 
while it makes itself such as it is and such as it wills to be, it also 
makes everything which happens appear to itself to be such as it wills. 


9. In conformity to the nature of the universe every single thing 
is accomplished, for certainly it is not in conformity to any other 
nature that each thing is accomplished, either a nature which 
externally comprehends this, or a nature which is comprehended 
within this nature, or a nature external and independent of this (xi. 
i; vi. 40; viii. 50). 

10. The universe is either a confusion, and a mutual involution 
of things, and a dispersion; or it is unity and order and providence. 
If then it is the former, why do I desire to tarry in a fortuitous com- 
bination of things and such a disorder? and why do I care about 
anything else than how I shall at last become earth ? and why am I 
disturbed, for the dispersion of my elements will happen whatever 
I do. But if the other supposition is true, I venerate, and I am firm, 
and I trust in him who governs (iv. 27). 

11. When thou hast been compelled by circumstances to be dis- 
turbed in a manner, quickly return to thyself and do not continue 
out of tune longer than the compulsion lasts; for thou wilt have more 
mastery over the harmony by continually recurring to it. 

12. If thou hadst a step-mother and a mother at the same time, 
thou wouldst be dutiful to thy step-mother, but still thou wouldst 
constantly return to thy mother. Let the court and philosophy now 
be to thee step-mother and mother; return to philosophy frequently 
and repose in her, through whom what thou meetest with in the 
court appears to thee tolerable, and thou appearest tolerable in the 

13. When we have meat before us and such eatables, we receive 
the impression, that this is the dead body of a fish, and this is the 
dead body of a bird or of a pig; and again, that this Falernian is 
only a little grape juice, and this purple robe some sheep's wool dyed 
with the blood of a shell-fish: such then are these impressions, and 
they reach the things themselves and penetrate them, and so we see 
what kind of things they are. Just in the same way ought we to act 
all through life, and where there are things which appear most worthy 
of our approbation, we ought to lay them bare and look at their 
worthlessness, and strip them of all the words by which they are 
exalted. For outward show is a wonderful perverter of the reason, 
and when thou art most sure that thou art employed about things 


worth thy pains, it is then that it cheats thee most. Consider then 
what Crates says of Xenocrates himself. 

14. Most of the things which the muhitude admire are referred to 
objects of the most general kind, those which are held together by 
cohesion or natural organization, such as stones, wood, fig-trees, 
vines, olives. But those which are admired by men who are a little 
more reasonable are referred to the things which are held together 
by a living principle, as flocks, herds. Those which are admired by 
men who are still more instructed are the things which are held 
together by a rational soul, not however a universal soul, but rational 
so far as it is a soul skilled in some art, or expert in some other way, 
or simply rational so far as it possesses a number of slaves. But he 
N\^o values a rational soul, a soul universal and fitted for political 
life, regards nothing else except this; and above all things he keeps 
his soul in a condition and in an activity conformable to reason and 
social life, and he co-operates to this end with those who are of the 
same kind as himself. 

15. Some things are hurrying into existence, and others are hurry- 
ing out of it; and of that which is coming into existence part is 
already extinguished. Motions and changes are continually renewing 
the world, just as the uninterrupted course of time is always renew- 
ing the infinite duration of ages. In this flowing stream then, on 
which there is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry 
by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a 
man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it 
has already passed out of sight. Something of this kind is the very 
life of every man, like the exhalation of the blood and the respiration 
of the air. For such as it is to have once drawn in the air and to 
have given it back, which we do every moment, just the same is it 
with the whole respiratory power, which thou didst receive at thy 
birth yesterday and the day before, to give it back to the element 
from which thou didst first draw it. 

16. Neither is transpiration, as in plants, a thing to be valued, nor 
respiration, as in domesticated animals and wild beasts, nor the 
receiving of impressions by the appearances of things, nor being 
moved by desires as puppets by strings, nor assembling in herds, 


nor being nourished by food; for this is just like the act of separating 
and parting with the useless part of our food. What then is worth 
being valued? To be received with clapping of hands? No. Neither 
must we value the clapping of tongues, for the praise which comes 
from the many is a clapping of tongues. Suppose then that thou hast 
given up this worthless thing called fame, what remains that is worth 
valuing? This, in my opinion, to move thyself and to restrain thy- 
self in conformity to thy proper constitution, to which end both all 
employments and arts lead. For every art aims at this, that the thing 
which has been made should be adapted to the work for which it 
has been made; and both the vine-planter who looks after the vine, 
and the horse-breaker, and he who trains the dog, seek this end. 
But the education and the teaching of youth aim at something. In 
this then is the value of the education and the teaching. And if this 
is well, thou wilt not seek anything else. Wilt thou not cease to 
value many other things too? Then thou vnh be neither free, nor 
sufficient for thy own happiness, nor without passion. For of neces- 
sity thou must be envious, jealous, and suspicious of those who can 
take away those things, and plot against those who have that which 
is valued by thee. Of necessity a man must be altogether in a state 
of perturbation who wants any of these things; and besides, he must 
often find fault with the gods. But to reverence and honour thy own 
mind will make thee content with thyself, and in harmony with 
society, and in agreement with the gods, that is, praising all that they 
give and have ordered. 

17. Above, below, all around are the movements of the elements. 
But the motion of virtue is in none of these: it is something more 
divine, and advancing by a way hardly observed it goes happily on 
its road. 

18. How strangely men act. They will not praise those who are 
living at the same time and living with themselves; but to be them- 
selves praised by posterity, by those whom they have never seen or 
ever will see, this they set much value on. But this is very much the 
same as if thou shouldst be grieved because those who have Uved 
before thee did not praise thee. 

19. If a thing is difficult to be accomplished by thyself, do not 


think that it is impossible for man; but if anything is possible for 
man and conformable to his nature, think that this can be attained 
by thyself too. 

20. In the gymnastic exercises suppose that a man has torn thee 
with his nails, and by dashing against thy head has inflicted a wound. 
Well, we neither show any signs of vexation, nor are we offended, 
nor do we suspect him afterward as a treacherous fellow; and yet we 
are on our guard against him, not however as an enemy, nor yet with 
suspicion, but we quietly get out of his way. Something like this let 
thy behaviour be in all the other parts of life; let us overlook many 
things in those who are like antagonists in the gymnasium. For it 
is in our power, as I said, to get out of the way, and to have no 
suspicion nor hatred. 

21. If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not 
think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which 
no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error 
and ignorance. 

22. I do my duty: other things trouble me not; for they are either 
things without life, or things without reason, or things that have 
rambled and know not the way. 

23. As to the animals which have no reason, and generally all 
things and objects, do thou, since thou hast reason and they have 
none, make use of them with a generous and liberal spirit. But 
toward human beings, as they have reason, behave in a social spirit. 
And on all occasions call on the gods, and do not perplex thyself 
about the length of time in which thou shalt do this; for even three 
hours so spent are sufficient. 

24. Alexander the Macedonian and his groom by death were 
brought to the same state; for either they were received among the 
same seminal principles of the universe, or they were alike dispersed 
among the atoms. 

25. Consider how many things in the same indivisible time take 
place in each of us, things which concern the body and things which 
concern the soul; and so thou wilt not wonder if many more things, 
or rather all things which come into existence in that which is the 
one and all, which we call Cosmos, exist in it at the same time. 

26. If any man should propose to thee the question, how the 


name Antoninus is written, wouldst thou with a straining of the 
voice utter each letter ? What then if they grow angry, wilt thou be 
angry too? Wilt thou not go on with composure and number every 
letter? Just so then in this life also remember that every duty is 
made up of certain parts. These it is thy duty to observe and without 
being disturbed or showing anger toward those who are angry with 
thee to go on thy way and finish that which is set before thee. 

27. How cruel it is not to allow men to strive after the things 
which appear to them to be suitable to their nature and profitable! 
And yet in a manner thou dost not allow them to do this, when 
thou art vexed because they do wrong. For they are certainly moved 
toward things because they suppose them to be suitable to their 
nature and profitable to them. But it is not so. Teach them then, 
and show them without being angry. 

28. Death is a cessation of the impressions through the senses, 
and of the pulling of the strings which move the appetites, and of 
the discursive movements of the thoughts, and of the service to 
the flesh (ii. 12). 

29. It is a shame for the soul to be first to give way in this life, when 
thy body does not give way. 

30. Take care that thou art not made into a Cssar, that thou art 
not dyed with this dye; for such things happen. Keep thyself then 
simple, good, pure, serious, free from affectation, a friend of justice, a 
worshiper of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in all proper acts. 
Strive to continue to be such as philosophy wished to make thee. 
Reverence the gods, and help men. Short is life. There is only one 
fruit of this terrene life, a pious disposition and social acts. Do every- 
thing as a disciple of Antoninus. Remember his constancy in every 
act which was conformable to reason, and his evenness in all things, 
and his piety, and the serenity of his countenance, and his sweetness, 
and his disregard of empty fame, and his efforts to understand things; 
and how he would never let anything pass without having first 
most carefully examined it and clearly understood it; and how he 
bore with those who blamed him unjustly without blaming them 
in return; how he did nothing in a hurry; and how he listened not 
to calumnies, and how exact an examiner of manners and actions 
he was; and not given to reproach people, nor timid, nor suspicious. 


nor a sophist; and with how little he was satisfied, such as lodging, 
bed, dress, food, servants; and how laborious and patient; and how 
he was able on account of his sparing diet to hold out to the evening, 
not even requiring to relieve himself by any evacuations except at 
the usual hour; and his firmness and uniformity in his friendships; 
and how he tolerated freedom of speech in those who opposed his 
opinions; and the pleasure that he had when any man showed him 
anything better; and how religious he was without superstition. 
Imitate all this that thou mayest have as good a conscience, when 
thy last hour comes, as he had (i. 16). 

31. Return to thy sober senses and call thyself back; and when 
thou hast roused thyself from sleep and hast perceived that they 
were only dreams which troubled thee, now in thy waking hours 
look at these [the things about thee] as thou didst look at those 
[the dreams]. 

32. I consist of a little body and a soul. Now to this little body all 
things are indifferent, for it is not able to jjerceive differences. But 
to the understanding those things only are indifferent, which are not 
the works of its own activity. But whatever things are the works 
of its own activity, all these are in its power. And of these however 
only those which are done with reference to the present; for as to the 
future and the past activities of the mind, even these are for the 
present indifferent. 

33. Neither the labour which the hand does nor that of the foot 
is contrary to nature, so long as the foot does the foot's work and 
the hand the hand's. So then neither to a man as a man is his labour 
contrary to nature, so long as it does the things of a man. But if the 
labour is not contrary to his nature, neither is it an evil to him. 

34. How many pleasures have been enjoyed by robbers, patricides, 

35. Dost thou not see how the handicraftsmen accommodate them- 
selves up to a certain point to those who are not skilled in their 
craft — nevertheless they cling to the reason [the principles] of their 
art and do not endure to depart from it? Is it not strange if the 
architect and the physician shall have more respect to the reason 
[the principles] of their own arts than man to his own reason, which 
is common to him and the gods? 


36. Asia, Europe are corners of the universe; all the sea a drop 
in the universe; Athos a little clod of the universe; all the present 
time is a point in eternity. All things are little, changeable, perish- 
able. All things come from thence, from that universal ruhng power 
either directly proceeding or by way of sequence. And accordingly 
the lion's gaping jaws, and that which is poisonous, and every harm- 
ful thing, as a thorn, as mud, are after-products of the grand and 
beautiful. Do not then imagine that they are of another kind from 
that which thou dost venerate, but form a just opinion of the source 
of all (vii. 75). 

37. He who has seen present things has seen all, both everything 
which has taken place from all eternity and everything which will 
be for time without end; for all things are of one kin and of one form. 

38. Frequently consider the connection of all things in the uni- 
verse and their relation to one another. For in a manner all things 
are implicated with one another, and all in this way are friendly to 
one another; for one thing comes in order after another, and this is 
by virtue of the active movement and mutual conspiration and the 
unity of the substance (ix. i). 

39. Adapt thyself to the things with which thy lot has been cast; 
and the men among whom thou hast received thy portion, love them, 
but do it truly [sincerely]. 

40. Every instrument, tool, vessel, if it does that for which it has 
been made, is well, and yet he who made it is not there. But in the 
things which are held together by nature there is within and there 
abides in them the power which made them ; wherefore the more is 
it fit to reverence this power, and to think that, if thou dost live and 
act according to its will, everything in thee is in conformity to intel- 
ligence. And thus also in the universe the things which belong to 
it are in conformity to inteUigence. 

41. Whatever of the things which are not within thy power thou 
shalt suppose to be good for thee or evil, it must of necessity be that, 
if such a bad thing befall thee or the loss of such a good thing, thou 
wilt blame the gods, and hate men too, those who are the cause of 
the misfortune or the loss, or those who are suspected of being likely 
to be the cause; and indeed we do much injustice, because we make 
a difference between these things [because we do not regard these 


things as indifferent]. But if we judge only those things which are 
in our power to be good or bad, there remains no reason either for 
finding fault with God or standing in a hostile attitude to man. 

42. We are all working together to one end, some with knowl- 
edge and design, and others without knowing what they do; as men 
also when they are asleep, of whom it is Heraclitus, I think, who 
says that they are labourers and co-operators in the things which take 
place in the universe. But men co-operate after different fashions: 
and even those co-operate abundantly, who find fault with what 
happens and those who try to oppose it and to hinder it; for the 
universe had need even of such men as these. It remains then for 
thee to understand among what kind of workmen thou placest thy- 
self; for he who rules all things will certainly make a right use of 
thee, and he will receive thee among some part of the co-operators 
and of those whose labours conduce to one end. But be not thou 
such a part as the mean and ridiculous verse in the play, which 
Chrysippus speaks of. 

43. Does the sun undertake to do the work of the rain, or 
yEsculapius the work of the Fruit-bearer [the earth]? And how 
is it with respect to each of the stars, are they not different, and yet 
they work together to the same end.'' 

44. If the gods have determined about me and about the things 
which must happen to me, they have determined well, for it is not 
easy even to imagine a deity without forethought; and as to doing 
me harm, why should they have any desire towards that? for what 
advantage would result to them from this or to the whole, which is 
the special object of their providence? But if they have not deter- 
mined about me individually, they have certainly determined about 
the whole at least, and the things which happen by way of sequence 
in this general arrangement I ought to accept with pleasure and to 
be content with them. But if they determine about nothing — which 
it is wicked to believe, or if we do believe it, let us neither sacrifice 
nor pray nor swear by them, nor do anything else which we do as 
if the gods were present and lived with us — but if however the gods 
determine about none of the things which concern us, I am able to 
determine about myself, and I can inquire about that which is useful; 
and that is useful to every man which is conformable to his own 


constitution and nature. But my nature is rational and social; and 
my city and country, so far as I am Antoninus, is Rome, but so far 
as I am a man, it is the world. The things then which are useful to 
these cities are alone useful to me. 

45. Whatever happens to every man, this is for the interest of the 
universal: this might be sufficient. But further thou wilt observe 
this also as a general truth, if thou dost observe, that whatever is 
profitable to any man is profitable also to other men. But let the word 
profitable be taken here in the common sense as said of things of the 
middle kind [neither good nor bad]. 

46. As it happens to thee in the amphitheatre and such places, 
that the continual sight of the same things and the uniformity make 
the spectacle wearisome, so it is in the whole of life; for all things 
above, below, are the same and from the same. How long then? 

47. Think continually that all kinds of men and of all kinds of 
pursuits and of all nations are dead, so that thy thoughts come down 
even to Philistion and Phoebus and Origanion. Now turn thy 
thoughts to the other kinds [of men]. To that place then we must 
remove, where there are so many great orators, and so many noble 
philosophers, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Socrates; so many heroes of 
former days, and so many generals after them, and tyrants; besides 
these, Eudoxus, Hipparchus, Archimedes, and other men of acute 
natural talents, great minds, lovers of labour, versatile, confident, 
mockers even of the perishable and ephemeral life of man, as 
Menippus and such as are like him. As to all these consider that they 
have long been in the dust. What harm then is this to them; and 
what to those whose names are altogether unknown? One thing 
here is worth a great deal, to pass thy life in truth and justice, with a 
benevolent disposition even to liars and unjust men. 

48. When thou wishest to delight thyself, think of the virtues 
of those who live with thee; for instance, the activity of one, and the 
modesty of another, and the liberality of a third, and some other 
good quality of a fourth. For nothing delights so much as the 
examples of the virtues, when they are exhibited in the morals of 
those who live with us and present themselves in abundance, as far 
as is possible. Wherefore we must keep them before us. 

49. Thou art not dissatisfied, I suppose, because thou weighest 


only so many litrx and not three hundred. Be not dissatisfied then 
that thou must live only so many years and not more; for as thou 
art satisfied with the amount of substance which has been assigned 
to thee, so be content with the time. 

50. Let us try to persuade them [men]. But act even against their 
will, when the principles of justice lead that way. If, however, any 
man by using force stands in thy way, betake thyself to contentment 
and tranquillity, and at the same time employ the hindrance toward 
the exercise of some other virtue; and remember that thy attempt 
was with a reservation [conditionally], that thou didst not desire 
to do impossibilities. What then didst thou desire? Some such 
effort as this. But thou attainest thy object, if the things to which 
thou wast moved are [not] accomphshed. 

51. He who loves fame considers another man's activity to be his 
own good; and he who loves pleasure, his own sensations; but he 
who has understanding, considers his own acts to be his own good. 

52. It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing, and not to 
be disturbed in our soul, for things themselves have no natural power 
to form our judgments. 

53. Accustom thyself to attend carefully to what is said by another, 
and as much as it is possible, be in the speaker's mind. 

54. That which is not good for the swarm, neither is it good for 
the bee. 

55. If sailors abused the helmsman or the sick the doctor, would 
they hsten to anybody else; or how could the helmsman secure the 
safety of those in the ship or the doctor the health of those whom 
he attends? 

56. How many together with whom I came into the world are 
already gone out of it. 

57. To the jaundiced honey tastes bitter, and to those bitten by mad 
dogs water causes fear; and to little children the ball is a fine thing. 
Why then am I angry? Dost thou think that a false opinion has 
less power than the bile in the jaundiced or the poison in him who 
is bitten by a mad dog? 

58. No man will hinder thee from living according to the reason 
of thy own nature : nothinf will happen to thee contrary to the reason 
of the universal nature. 


59. What kind of people are those whom men wish to please, and 
for what objects, and by what kind of atts? How soon will time 
cover all things, and how many it has covered already. 


WHAT is badness? It is that which thou hast often seen. 
And on the occasion of everything which happens keep this 
in mind, that it is that which thou hast often seen. Every- 
where up and down thou wilt find the same things, with which the 
old histories are filled, those of the middle ages and those of our own 
day; with which cities and houses are filled now. There is nothing 
new; all things are both familiar and short-lived. 

2. How can our principles become dead, unless the impressions 
[thoughts] which correspond to them are extinguished? But it is 
in thy power continuously to fan these thoughts into a flame. I can 
have that opinion about anything, which I ought to have. If I can, 
why am I disturbed? The things which are external to my mind 
have no relation at all to my mind. Let this be the state of thy affects, 
and thou standest erect. To recover thy life is in thy power. Look at 
things again as thou didst use to look at them; for in this consists the 
recovery of thy life. 

3. The idle business of show, plays on the stage, flocks of sheep, 
herds, exercises with spears, a bone to cast to little dogs, a bit of 
bread into fish-ponds, labourings of ants and burdenorrying, run- 
nings about of frightened little mice, puppets pulled by strings — 
[all alike]. It is thy duty then in the midst of such things to show 
good humour and not a proud air; to understand, however, that 
every man is worth just so much as the things are worth about which 
he busies himself. 

4. In discourse thou must attend to what is said, and in every 
movement thou must observe what is doing. And in the one thou 
shouldst see immediately to what end it refers, but in the other 
watch carefully what is the thing signified. 

5. Is my understanding sufficient for this or not ? If it is sufficient 
I use it for the work as an instrument given by the universal nature. 
But if it is not sufficient, then either I retire from the work and give 


way to him who is able to do it better, unless there be some reason 
why I ought not to do so; or I do it as well as I can, taking to help 
me the man who with the aid of my ruling principle can do what is 
now fit and useful for the general good. For whatsoever either by 
myself or with another I can do, ought to be directed to this only, 
to that which is useful and well suited to society. 

6. How many after being celebrated by fame have been given up 
to oblivion; and how many who have celebrated the fame of others 
have long been dead. 

7. Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to do thy 
duty Hke a soldier in the assault on a town. How then, if being lame 
thou canst not mount up on the battlements alone, but with the 
help of another it is possible ? 

8. Let not future things disturb thee, for thou wilt come to them, 
if it shall be necessary, having with thee the same reason which now 
thou usest for present things. 

9. All things are implicated with one another, and the bond is 
holy; and there is hardly anything unconnected with any other 
thing. For things have been co-ordinated, and they combine to 
form the same universe [order]. For there is one universe made up 
of all things, and one god who pervades all things, and one substance, 
and one law, [one] common reason in all intelligent animals, and 
one truth; if indeed there is also one perfection for all animals which 
are of the same stock and participate in the same reason. 

10. Everything material soon disappears in the substance of the 
whole; and everything formal [causal] is very soon taken back into 
the universal reason; and the memory of everything is very soon 
overwhelmed in time. 

11. To the rational animal the same act is according to nature 
and according to reason. 

12. Be thou erect, or be made erect (iii. 5). 

13. Just as it is with the members in those bodies which are united 
in one, so it is with rational beings which exist separate, for they 
have been constituted for one co-operation. And the perception of 
this will be more apparent to thee, if thou often sayest to thyself that 
I am a member [/xeXoj] of the system of rational beings. But if 
[using the letter r] thou sayest that thou art a part [m*P<«], thou 


dost not yet love men from thy heart; beneficence does not yet delight 
thee for its own sake; thou still doest it barely as a thing of pro- 
priety, and not yet as doing good to thyself. 

14. Let there fall externally what will on the parts which can 
feel the effects of this fall. For those parts which have felt will com- 
plain, if they choose. But I, unless I think that what has happened 
is an evil, am not injured. And it is in my power not to think so. 

15. Whatever any one does or says, I must be good, just as if the 
gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always saying this: What- 
ever any one does or says, I must be emerald and keep my colour. 

16. The ruling faculty does not disturb itself; I mean, does not 
frighten itself or cause itself pain. But if any one else can frighten 
or pain it, let him do so. For the faculty itself will not by its o'wn 
opinion turn into such ways. Let the body itself take care, if it can, 
that it suffer nothing, and let it speak, if it suffers. But the soul itself, 
that which is subject to fear, to pain, which has completely the power 
of forming an opinion about these things, will suffer nothing, for 
it will never deviate into such a judgment. The leading principle in 
itself wants nothing, unless it makes a want for itself; and there- 
fore it is both free from perturbation and unimpeded, if it does not 
disturb and impede itself. 

17. Eudsemonia [happiness] is a good daemon, or a good thing. 
What then art thou doing here, O imagination ? go away, 1 entreat 
thee by the gods, as thou didst come, for I want thee not. But thou 
art come according to thy old fashion. I am not angry with thee: 
only go away. 

18. Is any man afraid of change? Why, what can take place with- 
out change? What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the 
universal nature? And canst thou take a bath unless the wood 
undergoes a change? And canst thou be nourished unless the food 
undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be 
accomplished without change? Dost thou not see then that for thy- 
self also to change is just the same, and equally necessary for the 
universal nature? 

19. Through the universal substance as through a furious torrent 
all bodies are carried, being by their nature united with and co- 
operating with the whole, as the parts of our body with one another. 


How many a Chrysippus, how many a Socrates, how many an 
Epictetus has time already swallowed up? And let the same 
thought occur to thee with reference to every man and thing (v. 23; 
vi. 15)- 

20. One thing only troubles me, lest I should do something which 
the constitution of man does not allow, or in the way which it does 
not allow, or what it does not allow now. 

21. Near is thy forgetfulness of all things; and near the forget- 
fulness of thee by all. 

22. It is peculiar to man to love even those who do wrong. And 
this happens, if when they do wrong it occurs to thee that they are 
kinsmen, and that they do wrong through ignorance and uninten- 
tionally, and that soon both of you will die; and above all, that the 
wrong-doer has done thee no harm, for he has not made thy ruling 
faculty worse than it was before. 

23. The universal nature out of the universal substance, as if it 
were wax, now moulds a horse, and when it has broken this up, it 
uses the material for a tree, then for a man, then for something 
else; and each of these things subsists for a very short time. But it is 
no hardship for the vessel to be broken up, just as there was none 
in its being fastened together (viii. 50), 

24. A scowling look is altogether unnatural; when it is often 
assumed, the result is that all comeliness dies away, and at last is 
so completely extinguished that it cannot be again lighted up at all. 
Try to conclude from this very fact that it is contrary to reason. For 
if even the perception of doing wrong shall depart, what reason is 
there for living any longer ? 

25. Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things 
which ihou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, 
and again other things from the substance of them, in order that 
the world may be ever new (xii. 23). 

26. When a man has done thee any wrong, immediately consider 
with what opinion about good or evil. he has done wrong. For when 
thou hast seen this, thou wilt pity him, and wilt neither wonder nor 
be angry. For either thou thyself thinkest the same thing to be good 
that he does, or another thing of the same kind. It is thy duty then 
to pardon him. But if thou dost not think such things to be good or 


evil, thou wilt more readily be well-disposed to him who is in 

27. Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what thou 
hast: but of the things which thou hast select the best, and then 
reflect how eagerly they would have been sought, if thou hadst them 
not. At the same time, however, take care that thou dost not through 
being so pleased with them accustom thyself to overvalue them, so 
as to be disturbed if ever thou shouldst not have. them. 

28. Retire into thyself. The rational principle which rules has 
this nature, that it is content with itself when it does what is just, and 
so secures tranquillity. 

29. Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the strings. 
Confine thyself to the present. Understand well what happens either 
to thee or to another. Divide and distribute every object into the 
causal [formal] and the material. Think of thy last hour. Let the 
wrong which is done by a man stay there where the wrong was 
done (viii. 29). 

30. Direct thy attention to what is said. Let thy understanding 
enter into the things that are doing and the things which do them 

(vii. 4)- 

31. Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty and with indiffer- 
ence towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. Love 
mankind. Follow God. The poet says that Law rules all. And it is 
enough to remember that law rules all.' 

32. About death: whether it is a dispersion, or a resolution into 
atoms, or annihilation, it is either extinction or change. 

33. About pain: the pain which is intolerable carries us off; but 
that which lasts a long time is tolerable; and the mind maintains its 
own tranquillity by retiring into itself, and the ruling faculty is not 
made worse. But the parts which are harmed by pain, let them, if 
they can, give their opinion about it. 

34. About fame: look at the minds [of those who seek fame], 
observe what they are, and what kind of things they avoid, and what 
kind of things they pursue. And consider that as the heaps of sand 
piled on one another hide the former sands, so in life the events 
which go before are soon covered by those which come after. 

'The end of this section is unintelligible. 


35. From Plato: the man who has an elevated mind and takes a 
view of all time and of all substance, dost thou suppose it possible 
for him to think that human life is anything great? It is not possible, 
he said. Such a man then will think that death also is no evil. Cer- 
tainly not. 

36. From Antisthenes: It is royal to do good and to be abused. 

37. It is a base thing for the countenance to be obedient and to 
regulate and compose itself as the mind commands, and for the 
mind not to be regulated and composed by itself. 

38. It is not right to vex ourselves at things. 
For they care nought about it. 

39. To the immortal gods and us give joy. 

40. Life must be reaped like the ripe ears of corn: 
One man is born; another dies. 

41. If gods care not for me and for my children. 
There is a reason for it. 

42. For the good is with me, and the just. 

43. No joining others in their wailing, no violent emotion. 

44. From Plato: But I would make this man a sufficient answer, 
which is this: Thou sayest not well, if thou thinkest that a man who 
is good for anything at all ought to compute the hazard of life or 
death, and should not rather look to this only in all that he does, 
whether he is doing what is just or unjust, and the works of a good 
or a bad man. 

45. For thus it is, men of Athens, in truth: wherever a man has 
placed himself thinking it the best place for him, or has been placed 
by a commander, there in my opinion he ought to stay and to abide 
the hazard, taking nothing into the reckoning, either death or any- 
thing else, before the baseness [of deserting his post]. 

46. But, my good friend, reflect whether that which is noble and 
good is not something different from saving and being saved; for 
as to a man living such or such a time, at least one who is really a 
man, consider if this is not a thing to be dismissed from the thoughts: 
and there must be no love of life: but as to these matters a man must 
intrust them to the deity and believe what the women say, that no 
man can escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best 
live the time that he has to Uve. 


47. Look round at the courses o£ the stars, as if thou wert going 
along with them; and constantly consider the changes of the elements 
into one another; for such thoughts purge away the filth of the 
terrene life. 

48. This is a fine saying of Plato: That he who is discoursing 
about men should look also at earthly things as if he viewed them 
from some higher place; should look at them in their assemblies, 
armies, agricultural labours, marriages, treaties, births, deaths, noise 
of the courts of justice, desert places, various nations of barbarians, 
feasts, lamentations, markets, a mixture of all things and an orderly 
combination of contraries. 

49. Consider the past; such great changes of political supremacies. 
Thou mayest foresee also the things which will be. For they will 
certainly be of like form, and it is not possible that they should deviate 
from the order of the things which take place now: accordingly to 
have contemplated human life for forty years is the same as to have 
contemplated it for ten thousand years. For what more wilt thou 

50. That which has grown from the earth to the earth, 
But that which has sprung from heavenly seed. 
Back to the heavenly realms returns. 

This is either a dissolution of the mutual involution of the atoms, 
or a similar dispersion of the unsentient elements. 

51. With food and drinks and cunning magic arts 
Turning the channel's course to 'scape from death. 

The breeze which heaven has sent 
We must endure, and toil without complaining. 

52. Another may be more expert in casting his opponent; but he 
is not more social, nor more modest, nor better disciplined to meet all 
that happens, nor more considerate with respect to the faults of his 

53. Where any work can be done conformably to the reason 
which is common to gods and men, there we have nothing to fear; 
for where we arc able to get profit by means of the activity which 
is successful and proceeds according to our constitution, there no 
harm is to be suspected. 

54. Everywhere and at all times it is in thy power piously to 


acquiesce in thy present condition, and to behave justly to those who 
are about thee, and to exert thy skill upon thy present thoughts, that 
nothing shall steal into them without being well examined. 

55. Do not look around thee to discover other men's ruHng prin- 
ciples, but look straight to this, to what nature leads thee, both the 
universal nature through the things which happen to thee, and thy 
own nature through the acts which must be done by thee. But every 
being ought to do that which is according to its constitution; and all 
other things have been constituted for the sake of rational beings, 
just as among irrational things the inferior for the sake of the supe- 
rior, but the rational for the sake of one another. 

The prime principle then in man's constitution is the social. And 
the second is not to yield to the persuasions of the body, for it is the 
peculiar office of the rational and intelligent motion to circumscribe 
itself, and never to be overpowered either by the motion of the senses 
or of the appetites, for both are animal; but the intelligent motion 
claims superiority and does not permit itself to be overpowered by the 
others. And with good reason, for it is formed by nature to use all 
of them. The third thing in the rational constitution is freedom from 
error and from deception. Let then the ruling principle holding fast 
to these things go straight on, and it has what is its own. 

56. Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed thy life up 
to the present time; and live according to nature the remainder which 
is allowed thee. 

57. Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with the 
thread of thy destiny. For what is more suitable? 

58. In everything which happens keep before thy eyes those to 
whom the same things happened, and how they were vexed, and 
treated them as strange things, and found fault with them : and now 
where are they ? Nowhere. Why then dost thou too choose to act in 
the same way? and why dost thou not leave these agitations which 
are foreign to nature, to those who cause them and those who are 
moved by them? And why art thou not altogether intent upon the 
right way of making use of the things which happen to thee? for then 
thou wilt use them well, and they will be a material for thee [to 
work on]. Only attend to thyself, and resolve to be a good man in 
every act which thou doest; and remember . . . 


59. Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will 
ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig. 

60. The body ought to be compact, and to show no irregularity 
either in motion or attitude. For what the mind shows in the face 
by maintaining in it the expression of intelligence and propriety, 
that ought to be required also in the whole body. But all these 
things should be observed without affectation. 

61. The art of life is more like the wrestler's art than the dancer's, 
in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets 
which are sudden and unexpected. 

62. Constantly observe who those are whose approbation thou 
wishest to have, and what ruling principles they possess. For then 
thou wilt neither blame those who offend involuntarily, nor wilt thou 
want their approbation, if thou lookest to the sources of their opinions 
and appetites. 

63. Every soul, the philosopher says, is involuntarily deprived of 
truth; consequently in the same way it is deprived of justice and 
temperance and benevolence and everything of the kind. It is most 
necessary to bear this constantly in mind, for thus thou wilt be more 
gentle towards all. 

64. In every pain let this thought be present, that there is no dis- 
honour in it, nor does it make the governing intelligence worse, for 
it does not damage the intelligence either so far as the intelligence 
is rational or so far as it is social. Indeed in the case of most pains 
let this remark of Epicurus aid thee, that pain is neither intolerable 
nor everlasting, if thou bearest in mind that it has its limits, and if 
thou addest nothing to it in imagination: and remember this too, 
that we do not perceive that many things which are disagreeable to 
us are the same as pain, such as excessive drowsiness, and the being 
scorched by heat, and the having no appetite. When then thou art 
discontented about any of these things, say to thyself that thou art 
yielding to pain. 

65. Take care not to feel towards the inhuman as they feel towards 

66. How do we know if Telauges was not superior in character to 
Socrates? for it is not enough that Socrates died a more noble death, 
and disputed more skilfully with the sophists, and passed the night in 


the cold with more endurance, and that when he was bid to arrest 
Leon of Salamis, he considered it more noble to refuse, and that he 
walked in a swaggering way in the streets — though as to this fact 
one may have great doubts if it was true. But we ought to inquire, 
what kind of a soul it was that Socrates possessed, and if he was able 
to be content with being just towards men and pious towards the 
gods, neither idly vexed on account of men's villainy, nor yet making 
himself a slave to any man's ignorance, nor receiving as strange any- 
thing that fell to his share out of the universal, nor enduring it as 
intolerable, nor allowing his understanding to sympathize with the 
affects of the miserable flesh. 

67. Nature has not so mingled [the intelligence] with the composi- 
tion of the body, as not to have allowed thee the power of circum- 
scribing thyself and of bringing under subjection to thyself all that 
is thy own; for it is very possible to be a divine man and to be recog- 
nized as such by no one. Always bear this in mind; and another 
thing too, that very little indeed is necessary for hving a happy life. 
And because thou hast despaired of becoming a dialectician and 
skilled in the knowledge of nature, do not for this reason renounce 
the hope of being both free and modest and social and obedient to 

68. It is in thy power to live free from all compulsion in the great- 
est tranquillity of mind, even if all the world cry out against thee as 
much as they choose, and even if wild beasts tear in pieces the mem- 
bers of this kneaded matter which has grown around thee. For what 
hinders the mind in the midst of all this from maintaining itself in 
tranquillity, and in a just judgment of all surrounding things, and in 
a ready use of the objects which are presented to it, so that the judg- 
ment may say to the thing which falls under its observation: This 
thou art in substance [reality], though in men's opinion thou may- 
est appear to be of a different kind; and the use shall say to that 
which falls under the hand: Thou art the thing that I was seeking; 
for to me that which presents itself is always a material for virtue, 
both rational and political, and, in a word, for the exercise of art, 
which belongs to man or God. For everything which happens has 
a relationship either to God or man, and is neither new nor difficult 
to handle, but usual and apt matter to work on. 


69. The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing 
every day as the last, and in being neither violently excited, nor tor- 
pid, nor playing the hypKKrite. 

70. The gods who are immortal are not vexed because during so 
long a time they must tolerate continually men such as they are and 
so many of them bad; and besides this, they also take care of them in 
all ways. But thou, who art destined to end so soon, art thou wearied 
of enduring the bad, and this too when thou art one of them? 

71. It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his own bad- 
ness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other men's badness, 
which is impossible. 

72. Whatever the rational and political [social] faculty finds to be 
neither intelligent nor social, it properly judges to be inferior to itself. 

73. When thou hast done a good act and another has received it, 
why dost thou still look for a third thing besides these, as fools do, 
either to have the reputation of having done a good act or to obtain 
a return? 

74. No man is tired of receiving what is useful. But it is useful 
to act according to nature. Do not then be tired of receiving what is 
useful by doing it to others. 

75. The nature of the All moved to make the universe. But now 
either everything that takes place comes by way of consequence or 
[continuity]; or even the chief things towards which the ruling 
power of the universe directs its own movement are governed by no 
rational principle. If this is remembered it will make thee more 
tranquil in many things (vi. 44; ix. 28). 


THIS reflection also tends to the removal of the desire of 
empty fame, that it is no longer in thy power to have lived 
the whole of thy life, or at least thy life from thy youth up- 
wards, like a philosopher; but both to many others and to thyself it 
is plain that thou art far from philosophy. Thou hast fallen into dis- 
order then, so that it is no longer easy for thee to get the reputation of 
a philosopher; and thy plan of life also opposes it. If then thou hast 
truly seen where the matter lies, throw away the thought, How thou 
shalt seem [to others], and be content if thou shalt live the rest of 


thy life in such wise as thy nature wills. Observe then what it wills, 
and let nothing else distract thee; for thou hast had experience of 
many wanderings without having found happiness anywhere, not 
in syllogisms, nor in wealth, nor in reputation, nor in enjoyment, 
nor anywhere. Where is it then? In doing what man's nature re- 
quires. How then shall a man do this? If he has principles from 
which come his affects and his acts. What principles? Those which 
relate to good and bad: the belief that there is nothing good for man, 
which does not make him just, temperate, manly, free; and that there 
is nothing bad, which does not do the contrary to what has been 

2. On the occasion of every act ask thyself. How is this with respect 
to me? Shall I repent of it? A little time and I am dead, and all is 
gone. What more do I seek, if what I am doing now is the work of 
an intelligent Uving being, and a social being, and one who is under 
the same law with God ? 

3. Alexander and Caius and Pompeius, what are they in compari- 
son with Diogenes and Heraclitus and Socrates? For they were 
acquainted with things, and their causes [forms], and their matter, 
and the ruling principles of these men were the same [or conform- 
able to their pursuits]. But as to the others, how many things had 
they to care for, and to how many things were they slaves. 

4. [Consider] that men will do the same things nevertheless, even 
though thou shouldst burst. 

5. This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed, for all things are 
according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou 
wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrianus and Augustus. In the 
next place having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business look at it, 
and at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good 
man, and what man's nature demands, do that without turning 
aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with 
a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy. 

6. The nature of the universal has this work to do, to remove to 
that place the things which are in this, to change them, to take them 
away hence, and to carry them there. All things are change, yet we 
need not fear anything new. All things are familiar [to us]; but the 
distribution of them still remains the same. 


7. Every nature is contented with itself when it goes on its way 
well; and a rational nature goes on its way well, when in its thoughts 
it assents to nothing false or uncertain, and when it directs its move- 
ments to social arts only, and when it confines its desires and aver- 
sions to the things which are in its power, and when it is satisfied 
with everything that is assigned to it by the common nature. For 
of this common nature every particular nature is a part, as the 
nature of the leaf is a part of the nature of the plant; except that in 
the plant the nature of the leaf is part of a nature which has not per- 
ception or reason, and is subject to be impeded; but the nature of 
man is part of a nature which is not subject to impediments, and is 
intelligent and just, since it gives to everything in equal portions and 
according to its worth, times, substance, cause [form], activity, and 
incident. But examine, not to discover that any one thing compared 
with any other single thing is equal in all respects, but by taking all 
the parts together of one thing and comparing them with all the parts 
together of another. 

8. Thou hast not leisure [or ability] to read. But thou hast leisure 
[or ability] to check arrogance: thou hast leisure to be superior to 
pleasure and pain: thou hast leisure to be superior to love of fame, 
and not to be vexed at stupid and ungrateful people, nay even to care 
for them. 

9. Let no man any longer hear thee finding fault with the court 
Ufe or wdth thy own (v. 16). 

10. Repentance is a kind of self-reproof for having neglected some- 
thing useful; but that which is good must be something useful, and 
the perfect good man should look after it. But no such man would 
ever repent of having refused any sensual pleasure. Pleasure then is 
neither good nor useful. 

11. This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What 
is its substance and material? And what its causal nature [or 
form] ? And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it 

12. When thou risest from sleep with reluctance, remember that 
it is according to thy constitution and according to human nature to 
perform social acts, but sleeping is common also to irrational animals. 
But that which is according to each individual's nature is also more 


peculiarly its own, and more suitable to its nature, and indeed also 
more agreeable (v. i). 

13. Constantly and, if it be possible, on the occasion of every im- 
pression on the soul, apply to it the principles of Physic, of Ethic, 
and of Dialectic. 

14. Whatever man thou meetest with, immediately say to thyself: 
What opinions has this man about good and bad ? For if with respect 
to pleasure and pain and the causes of each, and with respect to fame 
and ignominy, death and life, he has such and such opinions, it 
will seem nothing wonderful or strange to me, if he does such 
and such things; and I shall bear in mind that he is compelled to 
do so. 

15. Remember that as it is a shame to be surprised if the fig-tree 
produces figs, so it is to be surprised if the world produces such and 
such things of which it is productive; and for the physician and the 
helmsman it is a shame to be surprised, if a man has a fever, or if 
the wind if unfavourable. 

16. Remember that to change thy opinion and to follow him who 
corrects thy error is as consistent with freedom as it is to persist in 
thy error. For it is thy own, the activity which is exerted according 
to thy own movement and judgment, and indeed according to thy 
own understanding too. 

17. If a thing is in thy own power, why dost thou do it? but if 
it is in the power of another, whom dost thou blame? the atoms 
[chance] or the gods? Both are foolish. Thou must blame nobody. 
For if thou canst, correct [that which is the cause]; but if thou canst 
not do this, correct at least the thing itself; but if thou canst not do 
even this, of what use is it to thee to find fault ? for nothing should be 
done without a purpose. 

18. That which has died falls not out of the universe. If it stays 
here, it also changes here, and is dissolved into its proper parts, which 
are elements of the universe and of thyself. And these too change, 
and they murmur not. 

19. Everything exists for some end, a horse, a vine. Why dost 
thou wonder? Even the sun will say, I am for some purpose, and the 
rest of the gods will say the same. For what purpose then art thou? 
to enjoy pleasure ? See if common sense allows this. 


20. Nature has had regard in everything no less to the end than 
to the beginning and the continuance, just like the man who throws 
up a ball. What good is it then for the ball to be thrown up, or harm 
for it to come down, or even to have fallen ? and what good is it to 
the bubble while it holds together, or what harm when it is burst ? 
The same may be said of a light also. 

21. Turn it [the body] inside out, and see what kind of thing it 
is; and when it has grown old, what kind of thing it becomes, and 
when it is diseased. 

Short-lived are both the praiser and the praised, and the remem- 
berer and the remembered: and all this in a nook of this part of the 
world; and not even here do all agree, no, not any one with himself: 
and the whole earth too is a point. 

22. Attend to the matter which is before thee, whether it is an 
opinion or an act or a word. 

Thou sufferest this justly: for thou choosest rather to become good 
to-morrow than to be good to-day. 

23. Am I doing anything? I do it with reference to the good of 
mankind. Does anything happen to me.^ I receive it and refer it 
to the gods, and the source of all things, from which all that happens 
is derived. 

24. Such as bathing appears to thee — oil, sweat, dirt, filthy water, 
all things disgusting — so is every part of life and everything. 

25. Lucilla saw Verus die, and then Lucilla died. Secunda saw 
Maximus die, and then Secunda died. Epitynchanus saw Diotimus 
die,and then Epitynchanus died. Antoninus saw Faustina die, and 
then Antoninus died. Such is everything. Celer saw Hadrianus die, 
and then Celer died. And those sharp-witted men, either seers or men 
inflated with pride, where are they.' for instance, the sharp-witted 
men, Charax and Demetrius the Platonist and Eudaemon, and any 
one else like them. All ephemeral, dead long ago. Some indeed have 
not been remembered even for a short time, and others have become 
the heroes of fables, and again others have disappeared even from 
fables. Remember this, then, that this little compound, thyself, must 
either be dissolved, or thy poor breath must be extinguished, or be 
removed and placed elsewhere. 

26. It is satisfaction to a man to do the proper works of a man. 


Now it is a proper work of a man to be benevolent to his own kind, 
to despise the movements of the senses, to form a just judgment of 
plausible appearances, and to take a survey of the nature of the uni- 
verse and of the things which happen in it. 

27. There are three relations [between thee and other things]: 
the one to the body which surrounds thee; the second to the divine 
cause from which all things come to all; and the third to those who 
live with thee. 

28. Pain is either an evil to the body — then let the body say what 
it thinks of it — or to the soul; but it is in the power of the soul to 
maintain its own serenity and tranquillity, and not to think that pain 
is an evil. For every judgment and movement and desire and aversion 
is within, and no evil ascends so high. 

29. Wipe out thy imaginations by often saying to thyself: now it is 
in my power to let no badness be in this soul, nor desire, nor any per- 
turbation at all; but looking at all things I see what is their nature, 
and I use each according to its value. — Remember this power which 
thou hast from nature. 

30. Speak both in the senate and to every man, whoever he may 
be, appropriately, not with any affectation: use plain discourse. 

31. Augustus' court, wife, daughter, descendants, ancestors, sister, 
Agrippa, kinsmen, intimates, friends, Areius, Maecenas, physicians 
and sacrificing priests — the whole court is dead. Then turn to the 
rest, not considering the death of a single man, [but of a whole 
race], as of the Pompeii; and that which is inscribed on the tombs — 
the last of his race. Then consider what trouble those before them 
have had that they might leave a successor; and then, that of neces- 
sity some one must be the last. Again here consider the death of 
a whole race. 

32. It is thy duty to order thy life well in every single act; and if 
every act does its duty, as far as is possible, be content; and no one is 
able to hinder thee so that each act shall not do its duty. — But some- 
thing external will stand in the way. — ^Nothing will stand in the way 
of thy acting justly and soberly and considerately, but perhaps some 
other active power will be hindered. Well, but by acquiescing in the 
hindrance and by being content to transfer thy efforts to that which 
is allowed, another opportunity of action is immediately put before 


thee in place of that which was hindered, and one which will adapt 
itself to this ordering of which we are speaking. 

33. Receive [wealth or prosperity] without arrogance; and be ready 
to let it go. 

34. If thou didst ever see a hand cut off, or a foot, or a head, lying 
anywhere apart from the rest of the body, such does a man make 
himself, as far as he can, who is not content with what happens, and 
separates himself from others, or does anything unsocial. Suppose 
that thou hast detached thyself from the natural unity — for thou wast 
made by nature a part, but now thou hast cut thyself off — yet here 
there is this beautiful provision, that it is in thy power again to unite 
thyself. God has allowed this to no other part, after it has been sepa- 
rated and cut asunder, to come together again. But consider the kind- 
ness by which he has distinguished man, for he has put it in his power 
not to be separated at all from the universal; and when he has been 
separated, he has allowed him to retiu^n and to be united and to 
resume his place as a part. 

35. As the nature of the universal has given to every rational being 
all the other powers that it has, so we have received from it this 
power also. For as the universal nature converts and fixes in its 
predestined place everything which stands in the way and opposes 
it, and makes such things a part of itself, so also the rational animal 
is able to make every hindrance its own material, and to use it for 
such purposes as it may have designed. 

36. Do not disturb thyself by thinking of the whole of thy hfe. 
Let not thy thoughts at once embrace all the various troubles which 
thou mayest expect to befall thee: but on every occasion ask thy- 
self, What is there in this which is intolerable and past bearing.? for 
thou wilt be ashamed to confess. In the next place remember that 
neither the future nor the past pains thee, but only the present. But 
this is reduced to a very little, if thou only circumscribest it, and 
chidest thy mind, if it is unable to hold out against even this. 

37. Does Panthea or Pergamus now sit by the tomb of Verus? 
Does Chaurias or Diotimus sit by the tomb of Hadrianus? That 
would be ridiculous. Well, suppose they did sit there, would the 
dead be conscious of it ? and if the dead were conscious, would they 
be pleased? and if they were pleased, would that make them im- 


mortal? Was it not in the order of destiny that these persons too 
should first become old women and old men and then die? What 
then would those do after these were dead? All this is foul smell 
and blood in a bag. 

38. If thou canst see sharp, look and judge wisely, says the phi- 

39. In the constitution of the rational animal I see no virtue which 
is opposed to justice; but I see a virtue which is opposed to love of 
pleasure, and that is temperance. 

40. If thou takest away thy opinion about that which appears to 
give thee pain, thou thyself standest in perfect security. Who is this 
self? The reason. But I am not reason. Be it so. Let then the reason 
itself not trouble itself. But if any other part of thee suffers, let it 
have its own opinion about itself (vii. 16). 

41. Hindrance to the perceptions of sense is an evil to the animal 
nature. Hindrance to the movements [desires] is equally an evil to 
the animal nature. And something else also is equally an impedi- 
ment and evil to the constitution of plants. So then that which is 
a hindrance to the intelligence is an evil to the intelligent nature. 
Apply all these things then to thyself. Does pain or sensuous pleasure 
affect thee? The senses will look to that. Has any obstacle opposed 
thee in thy efforts towards an object? if indeed thou wast making 
this effort absolutely [unconditionally, or without any reservation], 
certainly this obstacle is an evil to thee considered as a rational ani- 
mal. But if thou takest [into consideration] the usual course of 
things, thou hast not yet been injured nor even impjeded. The things 
however which are proper to the understanding no other man is 
used to impede, for neither fire, nor iron, nor tyrant, nor abuse, 
touches it in any way. When it has been made a sphere, it continues 
a sphere (xi. 12). 

42. It is not fit that I should give myself pain, for I have never 
intentionally given pain even to another. 

43. Different things delight different people. But it is my delight 
to keep the ruUng faculty sound without turning away either from 
any man or from any of the things which hapf)en to men, but look- 
ing at and receiving all with welcome eyes and using everything 
according to its value. 


44. See that thou secure this present time to thyself; for those who 
rather pursue posthumous fame do not consider that the men of 
after-time will be exactly such as these whom they cannot bear now; 
and both are mortal. And what is it in any way to thee if these men 
of after-time utter this or that sound, or have this or that opinion 
about thee? 

45. Take me and cast me where thou wilt; for there I shall keep 
my divine part tranquil, that is, content, if it can feel and act con- 
formably to its proper constitution. Is this [change of place] suf- 
ficient reason why my soul should be unhappy and worse than it 
was, depressed, expanded, shrinking, affrighted? and what wilt thou 
find which is sufficient reason for this? 

46. Nothing can happen to any man which is not human accident, 
nor to an ox which is not according to the nature of an ox, nor to a 
vine which is not according to the nature of a vine, nor to a stone 
which is not proper to a stone. If then there happens to each thing 
both what is usual and natural, why shouldst thou complain? 
For the common nature brings nothing which may not be borne 
by thee. 

47. If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that 
disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power 
to wipe out this judgment now. But if anything in thy own disposi- 
tion gives thee pain, who hinders thee from correcting thy opinion? 
And even if thou art pained because thou art not doing some particu- 
lar thing which seems to thee to be right, why dost thou not rather 
act than complain? But some insuperable obstacle is in the way? 
Do not be grieved then, for the cause of its not being done depends 
not on thee. But it is not worth while to live, if this cannot be done. 
Take thy departure then from life contentedly, just as he dies who is 
in full activity, and well pleased too with the things which are 

48. Remember that the ruling faculty is invincible, when self- 
collected it is satisfied with itself, if it does nothing which it does 
not choose to do, even if it resist from mere obstinacy. What then 
will it be when it forms a judgment about anything aided by reason 
and deliberately? Therefore the mind which is free from passions 
is a citadel, for man has nothing more secure to which he can fly for 


refuge and for the future be inexpugnable. He then who has not seen 
this is an ignorant man; but he who has seen it and does not fly 
to this refuge is unhappy. 

49. Say nothing more to thyself than what the first appearances re- 
port. Suppose that it has been reported to thee that a certain person 
speaks ill of thee. This has been reported; but that thou hast been 
injured, that has not been reported. I see that my child is sick. I do 
see; but that he is in danger, I do not see. Thus then always abide 
by the first appearances, and add nothing thyself from within, and 
then nothing happens to thee. Or rather add something, like a man 
who knows everything that happens in the world. 

50. A cucumber is bitter. — Throw it away. — There are briars in the 
road. — Turn aside from them. — This is enough. Do not add. And 
why were such things made in the world? For thou wilt be ridi- 
culed by a man who is acquainted with nature, as thou wouldst be 
ridiculed by a carpenter and shoemaker if thou didst find fault be- 
cause thou seest in their workshop shavings and cuttings from the 
things which they make. And yet they have places into which they 
can throw these shavings and cuttings, and the universal nature has 
no external space; but the wondrous part of her art is that though 
she has circumscribed herself, everything within her which appears 
to decay and to grow old and to be useless she changes into herself, 
and again makes other new things from these very same, so that she 
requires neither substance from without nor wants a place into which 
she may cast that which decays. She is content then with her own 
space, and her own matter, and her own art. 

51. Neither in thy actions be sluggish, nor in thy conversation 
without method, nor wandering in thy thoughts, nor let there be 
in thy soul inward contention nor external effusion, nor in life be so 
busy as to have no leisure. 

Suppose that men kill thee, cut thee in pieces, curse thee. What 
then can these things do to prevent thy mind from remaining pure, 
wise, sober, just? For instance, if a man should stand by a limpid 
pure spring, and curse it, the spring never ceases sending up potable 
water; and if he should cast clay into it or filth, it will speedily 
disperse them and wash them out, and will not be at all polluted. 
How then shalt thou possess a perpetual fountain [and not a mere 


well]? By forming thyself hourly to freedom conjoined with con- 
tentment, simplicity and modesty. 

52. He who does not know what the world is, does not know 
where he is. And he who does not know for what purpose the world 
exists, does not know who he is, nor what the world is. But he who 
has failed in any one of these things could not even say for what pur- 
pose he exists himself. What then dost thou think of him who 
[avoids or] seeks the praise of those who applaud, of men who know 
not either where they are or who they are? 

53. Dost thou wish to be praised by a man who curses himself 
thrice every hour? Wouldst thou wish to please a man who does 
not please himself? Does a man please himself who repents of 
nearly everything that he does ? 

54. No longer let thy breathing only act in concert with the air 
which surrounds thee, but let thy intelligence also now be in har- 
mony with the intelligence which embraces all things. For the 
intelligent power is no less diffused in all parts and pervades all 
things for him who is willing to draw it to him than the aerial power 
for him who is able to respire it. 

55. Generally, wickedness does no harm at all to the universe; 
and particularly, the wickedness [of one man] does no harm to 
another. It is only harmful to him who has it in his power to be 
rdeased from it, as soon as he shall choose. 

56. To my own free will the free will of my neighbour is just 
as indifferent as his poor breath and flesh. For though we are made 
especially for the sake of one another, still the ruling power of each 
of us has its own office, for otherwise my neighbour's wickedness 
would be my harm, which God has not willed in order that my un- 
happiness may not depend on another. 

57. The sun appears to be poured down, and in all directions 
indeed it is diffused, yet it is not effused. For this diffusion is exten- 
sion: Accordingly its rays are called Extensions [hKrlves] because they 
are extended [Airi tov ein-fltfaOaj.], But one may judge what kind of 
a thing a ray is, if he looks at the sun's light passing through a nar- 
row opening into a darkened room, for it is extended in a right line, 
and, as it were, is divided when it meets with any solid body which 
stands in the way and intercepts the air beyond; but there the light 


remains fixed and does not glide or fall off. Such then ought to 
be the outpouring and diffusion of the understanding, and it should 
in no way be an effusion, but an extension, and it should make no 
violent or impetuous collision with the obstacles which are in its 
way; nor yet fall down, but be fixed and enlighten that which re- 
ceives it. For a body will deprive itself of the illumination, if it 
does not admit it. 

58. He who fears death either fears the loss of sensation or a dif- 
ferent kind of sensation. But if thou shah have no sensation, neither 
wilt thou feel any harm; and if thou shalt acquire another kind of 
sensation, thou wilt be a different kind of living being, and thou wilt 
not cease to live. 

59. Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or 
bear with them. 

60. In one way an arrow moves, in another way the mind. The 
mind, indeed, both when it exercises caution and when it is employed 
about inquiry, moves straight onward not the less, and to its object. 

61. Enter into every man's ruling faculty; and also let every other 
man enter into thine. 


HE who acts unjustly acts impiously. For since the universal 
nature has made rational animals for the sake of one 
another to help one another according to their deserts, but 
in no way to injure one another, he who transgresses her will, is 
clearly guilty of impiety towards the highest divinity. And he too 
who lies is guilty of impiety to the same divinity; for the universal 
nature is the nature of things that are; and things that are have a 
relation to all things that come into existence. And further, this 
universal nature is named truth, and is the prime cause of all things 
that are true. He then who lies intentionally is guilty of impiety 
inasmuch as he acts unjustly by deceiving; and he also who lies 
unintentionally, inasmuch as he is at variance with the universal 
nature, and inasmuch as he disturbs the order by fighting against the 
nature of the world; for he fights against it, who is moved of him- 
self to that which is contrary to truth, for he had received powers 


from nature through the neglect of which he is not able now to dis- 
tinguish falsehood from truth. And indeed he who pursues pleasure 
as good, and avoids pain as evil, is guilty of impiety. For of neces- 
sity such a man must often find fault with the universal nature, 
alleging that it assigns things to the bad and the good contrary to 
their deserts, because frequently the bad are in the enjoyment of 
pleasure and jX)ssess the things which procure pleasure, but the good 
have pain for their share and the things which cause pain. And 
further, he who is afraid of pain will sometimes also be afraid of 
some of the things which will happen in the world, and even this is 
impiety. And he who pursues pleasure will not abstain from injus- 
tice, and this is plainly impiety. Now with resf)ect to the things 
towards which the universal nature is equally affected — for it would 
not have made both, unless it was equally affected towards both — 
towards these they who wish to follow nature should be of the same 
mind with it, and equally affected. With respect to pain, then, and 
pleasure, or death and life, or honour and dishonour, which the uni- 
versal nature employs equally, whoever is not equally affected is 
manifestly acting impiously. And I say that the universal nature 
employs them ec]ually, instead of saying that they happen alike to 
those who are produced in continuous series and to those who 
come after them by virtue of a certain original movement of Provi- 
dence, according to which it moved from a certain beginning to 
this ordering of things, having conceived certain principles of the 
things which were to be, and having determined powers productive 
of beings and of changes and of suchlike successions (vii. 75). 

2. It would be a man's happiest lot to depart from mankind with- 
out having had any taste of lying and hypocrisy and luxury and pride. 
However to breathe out one's life when a man has had enough of 
these things is the next best voyage, as the saying is. Hast thou 
determined to abide with vice, and has not experience yet induced 
thee to fly from this pestilence? For the destruction of the under- 
standing is a p)estilence, much more indeed than any such corruption 
and change of this atmosphere which surrounds us. For this cor- 
ruption is a pestilence of animals so far as they are animals; but the 
other is a pestilence of men so far as they are men. 

3. Do not despise death, but be well content with it, since this too 


is one of those things which nature wills. For such as it is to be 
young and to grow old, and to increase and to reach maturity, 
and to have teeth and beard and gray hairs, and to beget, and to 
be pregnant, and to bring forth, and all the other natural operations 
which the seasons of thy life bring, such also is dissolution. This, 
then, is consistent with the character of a reflecting man, to be neither 
careless nor impatient nor contemptuous with respect to death, but 
to wait for it as one of the operations of nature. As thou now wait- 
est for the time when the child shall come out of thy wife's womb, 
so be ready for the time when thy soul shall fall out of this envelope. 
But if thou requirest also a vulgar kind of comfort which shall reach 
thy heart, thou wilt be made best reconciled to death by observing the 
objects from which thou art going to be removed, and the morals of 
those with whom thy soul will no longer be mingled. For it is no 
way right to be offended with men, but it is thy duty to care for them 
and to bear with them gently; and yet to remember that thy depart- 
ure will be not from men who have the same principles as thyself. 
For this is the only thing, if there be any, which could draw us the 
contrary way and attach us to life, to be permitted to live with those 
who have the same principles as ourselves. But now thou seest how 
great is the trouble arising from the discordance of those who live 
together, so that thou mayst say. Come quick, O death, lest per- 
chance I, too, should forget myself. 

4. He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts 
unjustly acts unjustly to himself, because he makes himself bad. 

5. He often acts unjustly who does not do a certain thing; not 
only he who does a certain thing. 

6. Thy present opinion founded on understanding, and thy pres- 
ent conduct directed to social good, and thy present disposition of 
contentment with everything which happens — that is enough. 

7. Wipe out imagination: check desire: extinguish appetite: keep 
the ruUng faculty in its own power. 

8. Among the animals which have not reason one life is distrib- 
uted; but among reasonable animals one intelligent soul is distrib- 
uted: just as there is one earth of all things which are of an earthy 
nature, and we see by one light, and breathe one air, all of us that 
have the faculty of vision and all that have life. 


9. All things which participate in anything which is common to 
them all move towards that which is of the same kind with them- 
selves. Everything which is earthy turns towards the earth, every- 
thing which is liquid flows together, and everything which is of an 
aerial kind does the same, so that they require something to keep 
them asunder, and the application of force. Fire indeed moves up- 
wards on account of the elemental fire, but it is so ready to be kindled 
together with all the fire which is here, that even every substance 
which is somewhat dry, is easily ignited, because there is less min- 
gled with it of that which is a hindrance to ignition. Accordingly 
then everything also which participates in the common intelligent 
nature moves in like manner towards that which is of the same kind 
with itself, or moves even more. For so much as it is superior in com- 
parison with all other things, in the same degree also is it more 
ready to mingle with and to be fused with that which is akin to it. 
Accordingly among animals devoid of reason we find swarms of 
bees, and herds of cattle, and the nurture of young birds, and in a 
manner, loves; for even in animals there are souls, and that power 
which brings them together is seen to exert itself in the superior 
degree, and in such a way as never has been observed in plants nor 
in stones nor in trees. But in rational animals there are political 
communities and friendships, and families and meetings of people; 
and in wars, treaties and armistices. But in the things which are still 
superior, even though they are separated from one another, unity 
in a manner exists, as in the stars. Thus the ascent to the higher de- 
gree is able to produce a sympathy even in things which are sepa- 
rated. See then what now takes place. For only intelligent animals 
have now forgotten this mutual desire and inclination, and in them 
alone the property of flowing together is not seen. But still, though 
men strive to avoid [this union], they are caught and held by it, for 
their nature is too strong for them; and thou wilt see what I say, if 
thou only observest. Sooner then will one find anything earthy which 
comes in contact with no earthy thing than a man altogether sepa- 
rated from other men. 

ID. Both man and God and the universe produce fruit; at the 
proper seasons each produces it. But if usage has especially fixed 
these terms to the vine and like things, this is nothing. Reason 


produces fruit both for all and for itself, and there are produced 
from it other things of the same kind as reason itself. 

11. If thou art able, correct by teaching those who do wrong; but 
if thou canst not, remember that indulgence is given to thee for this 
purpose. And the gods, too, are indulgent to such persons; and for 
some purposes they even help them to get health, wealth, reputation; 
so kind they are. And it is in thy power also; or say, who hinders 

12. Labour not as one who is wretched, nor yet as one who would 
be pitied or admired; but direct thy will to one thing only, to put 
thyself in motion and to check thyself, as the social reason requires. 

13. To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all 
trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions. 

14. All things are the same, familiar in experience, and ephemeral 
in time, and worthless in the matter. Everything now is just as it 
was in the time of those whom we have buried. 

15. Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves, neither 
knowing aught of themselves, nor expressing any judgment. What 
is it, then, which does judge about them? The ruling faculty. 

16. Not in passivity, but in activity, lie the evil and the good of the 
rational social animal, just as his virtue and his vice lie not in passiv- 
ity, but in activity. 

17. For the stone which has been thrown up it is no evil to come 
down, nor indeed any good to have been carried up (viii. 20). 

18. Penetrate inwards into men's leading principles, and thou wilt 
see what judges thou art afraid of, and what kind of judges they 
are of themselves. 

19. All things are changing; and thou thyself art in continuous 
mutation and in a manner in continuous destruction, and the whole 
universe too. 

20. It is thy duty to leave another man's wrongful act there where 
it is (vii. 29; ix. 38). 

21. Termination of activity, cessation from movement and opin- 
ion, and in a sense their death, is no evil. Turn thy thoughts now to 
the consideration of thy life, thy life as a child, as a youth, thy man- 
hood, thy old age, for in these also every change was a death. Is 
this anything to fear? Turn thy thoughts now to thy Ufe under thy 


grandfather, then to thy Ufe under thy mother, then to thy Ufe under 
thy father; and as thou findest many other differences and changes 
and terminations, ask thyself, Is this anything to fear? In like man- 
ner, then, neither are the termination and cessation and change of 
thy whole life a thing to be afraid of. 

22. Hasten [to examine] thy own ruling faculty and that of the 
universe and that of thy neighbour: thy own, that thou mayst make 
it just; and that of the universe, that thou mayst remember of what 
thou art a part; and that of thy neighbour, that thou mayst know 
whether he has acted ignorantly or with knowledge, and that thou 
mayst also consider that his ruling faculty is akin to thine. 

23. As thou thyself art a component part of a social system, so let 
every act of thine be a component part of social life. Whatever act 
of thine then has no reference, either immediately or remotely, to a 
social end, this tears asunder thy life, and does not allow it to be one, 
and it is of the nature of a mutiny, just as when in a popular assem- 
bly a man acting by himself stands apart from the general agreement. 

24. Quarrels of little children and their sports, and poor spirits 
carrying about dead bodies [such is everything]; and so what is 
exhibited in the representation of the mansions of the dead strikes 
our eyes more clearly. 

25. Examine into the quality of the form of an object, and detach 
it altogether from its material part, and then contemplate it; then 
determine the time, the longest which a thing of this peculiar form 
is naturally made to endure. 

26. Thou hast endured infinite troubles through not being con- 
tented with thy ruling faculty, when it does the things which it is 
constituted by nature to do. But enough [of this], 

27. When another blames thee or hates thee, or when men say 
about thee anything injurious, approach their poor souls, penetrate 
within, and see what kind of men they are. Thou wilt discover that 
there is no reason to take any trouble that these men may have this 
or that opinion about thee. However thou must be well-disposed 
towards them, for by nature they are friends. And the gods too 
aid them in all ways, by dreams, by signs, towards the attainment 
of those things on which they set a value. 

28. The periodic movements of the universe are the same, up and 


down from age to age. And either the universal intelligence puts 
itself in motion for every separate effect, and if this is so, be thou 
content with that which is the result of its activity; or it puts itself 
in motion once, and everything else comes by way of sequence in a 
manner; or indivisible elements are the origin of all things. In a 
word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not thou 
also be governed by it (vi. 44; vii. 75) . 

Soon will the earth cover us all: then the earth, too, will change, 
and the things also which result from change will continue to 
change forever, and these again forever. For if a man reflects on the 
changes and transformations which follow one another like wave 
after wave and their rapidity, he will despise everything which is 
perishable (xii. 21). 

29. The universal cause is like a winter torrent: it carries every- 
thing along with it. But how worthless are all these poor pieople 
who are engaged in matters political, and, as they suppose, are play- 
ing the philosopher! All drivelers. Well then, man: do what nature 
now requires. Set thyself in motion, if it is in thy power, and do not 
look about thee to see if any one will observe it; nor yet expect 
Plato's Republic: but be content if the smallest thing goes on well, 
and consider such an event to be no small matter. For who can 
change men's opinions? And without a change of opinions what 
else is there than the slavery of men who groan while they pretend to 
obey? Come now and tell me of Alexander and Philippus and 
Demetrius and Phalerum. They themselves shall judge whether 
they discovered what the common nature required, and trained them- 
selves accordingly. But if they acted like tragedy heroes, no one 
has condemned me to imitate them. Simple and modest is the work 
of philosophy. Draw me not aside to insolence and pride. 

30. Look down from above on the countless herds of men and 
their countless solemnities, and the infinitely varied voyagings in 
storms and calms, and the differences among those who are born, 
who live together, and die. And consider, too, the life lived by 
others in olden time, and the life of those who will live after thee, and 
the life now lived among barbarous nations, and how many know not 
even thy name, and how many will soon forget it, and how they who 
perhaps now are praising thee will very soon blame thee, and that 


neither a posthumous name is of any value, nor reputation, nor 
anything else. 

31. Let there be freedom from perturbations with respect to the 
things which come from the external cause; and let there be justice 
in the things done by virtue of the internal cause, that is, let there 
be movement and action terminating in this, in social acts, for this is 
according to thy nature. 

32. Thou canst remove out of the way many useless things among 
those which disturb thee, for they lie entirely in thy opinion; and 
thou wilt then gain for thyself ample space by comprehending the 
whole universe in thy mind, and by contemplating the eternity of 
time, and observing the rapid change of every several thing, how 
short is the time from birth to dissolution, and the illimitable time 
before birth as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution. 

33. All that thou seest will quickly perish, and those who have 
been spectators of its dissolution will very soon perish too. And he 
who dies at the extremest oM age will be brought into the same 
condition with him who died prematurely. 

34. What are these men's leading principles, and about what 
kind of things are they busy, and for what kind of reasons do they 
love and honour? Imagine that thou seest their poor souls laid bare. 
When they think that they do harm by their blame or good by their 
praise, what an idea! 

35. Loss is nothing else than change. But the universal nature 
delights in change, and in obedience to her all things are now done 
well, and from eternity have been done in like form, and will be 
such to time without end. What then dost thou say ? That all things 
have been and all things always will be bad, and that no power 
has ever been found in so many gods to rectify these things, but the 
world has been condemned to be bound in never-ceasing evil ? (iv. 
45; vii. 18). 

36. The rottenness of the matter which is the foundation of every- 
thing! water, dust, bones, filth; or again, marble rocks, the callosities 
of the earth; and gold and silver, the sediments; and garments, 
only bits of hair; and purple dye, blood; and everything else is of 
the same kind. And that which is of the nature of breath, is also 
another thing of the same kind, changing from this to that. 


37. Enough of this wretched Ufe and murmuring and apish tricks. 
Why art thou disturbed? What is there new in this? What un- 
settles thee? Is it the form of the thing? Look at it. Or is it the 
matter ? Look at it. But besides these there is nothing. Towards the 
gods, then, now become at last more simple and better. It is the same 
whether we examine these things for a hundred years or three. 

38. If any man has done wrong, the harm is his own. But perhaps 
he has not done wrong. 

39. Either all things proceed from one intelligent source and 
come together as in one body, and the part ought not to find fault 
with what is done for the benefit of the whole; or there are only 
atoms, and nothing else than mixture and dispersion. Why, then, art 
thou disturbed ? Say to the ruUng faculty. Art thou dead, art thou 
corrupted, art thou playing the hypocrite, art thou become a beast, 
dost thou herd and feed with the rest ? 

40. Either the gods have no power or they have power. If, then, 
they have no power, why dost thou pray to them ? But if they have 
power, why dost thou not pray for them to give thee the faculty of 
not fearing any of the things which thou fearest, or of not desiring 
any of the things which thou desirest, or not being pained at any- 
thing, rather than pray that any of these things should not happen or 
happen? for certainly if they can co-operate with men, they can 
co-operate for these purposes. But perhaps thou wilt say, the gods 
have placed them in thy power. Well, then, is it not better to use 
what is in thy power Hke a free man than to desire in a slavish and 
abject way what is not in thy power? And who has told thee that 
the gods do not aid us even in the things which are in our power? 
Begin, then, to pray for such things, and thou wilt see. One man 
prays thus: How shall I be able to lie with that woman? Do thou 
pray thus: How shall I not desire to lie with her? Another prays 
thus: How shall I be released from this? Another prays: How shall 
I not desire to be released? Another thus: How shall I not lose my 
little son? Thou thus: How shall I not be afraid to lose him? In 
fine, turn thy prayers this way, and see what comes. 

41. Epicurus says. In my sickness my conversation was not about 
my bodily sufferings, nor, says he, did I talk on such subjects to those 
who visited me; but I continued to discourse on the nature of things 


as before, keeping to this main point, how the mind, while partici- 
pating in such movements as go on in the poor flesh, shall be free 
from perturbations and maintain its proper good. Nor did I, he 
says, give the physicians an opportunity of putting on solemn looks, 
as if they were doing something great, but my life went on well and 
happily. Do, then, the same that he did both in sickness, if thou art 
sick, and in any other circumstances; for never to desert philosophy 
in any events that may befall us, nor to hold trifling talk either with 
an ignorant man or with one unacquainted with nature, is a principle 
of all schools of philosophy; but to be intent only on that which thou 
art now doing and on the instrument by which thou doest it. 

42. When thou art offended with any man's shameless conduct, 
immediately ask thyself, Is it possible, then, that shameless men 
should not be in the world ? It is not possible. Do not, then, require 
what is impossible. For this man also is one of those shameless men 
who must of necessity be in the world. Let the same considerations 
be present to thy mind in the case of the knave, and the faithless 
man, and of every man who does wrong in any way. For at the same 
time that thou dost remind thyself that it is impossible that such kind 
of men should not exist, thou wilt become more kindly disposed 
towards every one individually. It is useful to perceive this, too, im- 
mediately when the occasion arises, what virtue nature has given to 
man to oppose to every wrongful act. For she has given to 
man, as an antidote against the stupid man, mildness, and against 
another kind of man some other power. And in all cases it is pos- 
sible for thee to correct by teaching the man who is gone astray; for 
every man who errs misses his object and is gone astray. Besides 
wherein hast thou been injured? For thou wilt find that no one 
among those against whom thou art irritated has done anything by 
which thy mind could be made worse; but that which is evil to thee 
and harmful has its foundation only in the mind. And what harm 
is done or what is there strange, if the man who has not been in- 
structed does the acts of an uninstructed man? Consider whether 
thou shouldst not rather blame thyself, because thou didst not expect 
such a man to err in such a way. For thou hadst means given thee 
by thy reason to suppose that it was likely that he would commit 
this error, and yet thou hast forgotten and art amazed that he has 


erred. But most of all when thou blamest a man as faithless or un- 
grateful, turn to thyself. For the fault is manifestly thy own, whether 
thou didst trust that a man who had such a disposition would keep his 
promise, or when conferring thy kindness thou didst not confer it 
absolutely, nor yet in such way as to have received from thy very act 
all the profit. For what more dost thou want when thou hast done 
a man a service? Art thou not content that thou hast done something 
conformable to thy nature, and dost thou seek to be paid for it? 
Just as if the eye demanded a recompense for seeing, or the feet for 
walking. For as these members are formed for a particular purpose, 
and by working according to their several constitutions obtain what is 
their own; so also as man is formed by nature to acts of benevolence, 
when he has done anything benevolent or in any other way condu- 
cive to the common interest, he has acted conformably to his consti- 
tution, and he gets what is his own. 

WILT thou then, my soul, never be good and simple and 
one and naked, more manifest than the body which sur- 
rounds thee? Wilt thou never enjoy an affectionate and 
contented disposition? Wilt thou never be full and without a want 
of any kind, longing for nothing more, nor desiring anything, either 
animate or inanimate, for the enjoyment of pleasures? nor yet desir- 
ing time wherein thou shalt have longer enjoyment, or place, or 
pleasant climate, or society of men with whom thou mayst live in 
harmony? but wilt thou be satisfied with thy present condition, and 
pleased wdth all that is about thee, and wilt thou convince thysdf 
that thou hast everything and that it comes from the gods, that 
everything is well for thee, and will be well whatever shall please 
them, and whatever they shall give for the conservation of the per- 
fect living being, the good and just and beautiful, which generates 
and holds together all things, and contains and embraces all things 
which are dissolved for the production of other like things? Wilt 
thou never be such that thou shalt so dwell in community with gods 
and men as neither to find fault with them at all, nor to be con- 
demned by them ? 


2. Observe what thy nature requires, so far as thou art governed 
by nature only; then do it and accept it, if thy nature, so far as thou 
art a Hving being, shall not be made worse by it. And next thou 
must observe what thy nature requires so far as thou art a hving 
being. And all this thou mayst allow thyself, if thy nature, so far as 
thou art a rational animal, shall not be made worse by it. But the 
rational animal is consequently also a (xjlitical [social] animal. Use 
these rules then, and trouble thyself about nothing else. 

3. Everything which happens either happens in such wise as thou 
art formed by nature to bear it, or as thou art not formed by nature 
to bear it. If then it happens to thee in such way as thou art formed 
by nature to bear it, do not complain, but bear it as thou art formed 
by nature to bear it. But if it happens in such wise as thou art not 
formed by nature to bear it, do not complain, for it will perish after 
it has consumed thee. Remember, however, that thou art formed by 
nature to bear everything, with respect to which it depends on thy 
own opinion to make it endurable and tolerable, by thinking that it is 
either thy interest or thy duty to do this. 

4. If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him his 
error. But if thou art not able, blame thyself, or blame not even 

5. Whatever may happen to thee, it was prepared for thee from 
all eternity; and the implication of causes was from eternity spinning 
the thread of thy being, and of that which is incident to it (iii. 11; 
iv. 26). 

6. Whether the universe is [a concourse of] atoms, or nature 
[is a system], let this first be estabUshed, that I am a part of the 
whole which is governed by nature; next, I am in a manner inti- 
mately related to the parts which are of the same kind with myself. 
For remembering this, inasmuch as I am a part, I shall be discon- 
tented with none of the things which are assigned to me out of the 
whole; for nothing is injurious to the part, if it is for the advantage 
of the whole. For the whole contains nothing which is not for its 
advantage; and all natures indeed have this common principle, but 
the nature of the universe has this principle besides, that it cannot 
be compelled even by any external cause to generate anything harm- 
ful to itself. By remembering then that I am a part o£ such a whole, I 


shall be content with everything that happens. And inasmuch as I 
am in a manner intimately related to the parts which are of the 
same kind with myself, I shall do nothing unsocial, but I shall rather 
direct myself to the things which are of the same kind with myself, 
and I shall turn all my efforts to the common interest, and divert 
them from the contrary. Now, if these things are done so, life must 
flow on happily, just as thou mayst observe that the life of a citizen 
is happy, who continues a course of action which is advantageous to 
his fellow<itizens, and is content with whatever the state may assign 
to him. 

7. The parts of the whole, everything, I mean, which is naturally 
comprehended in the universe, must of necessity perish; but let this 
be understood in this sense, that they must undergo change. But if 
this is naturally both an evil and a necessity for the parts, the whole 
would not continue to exist in a good condition, the parts being 
subject to change and constituted so as to perish in various ways. 
For whether did nature herself design to do evil to the things which 
are parts of herself, and to make them subject to evil and of neces- 
sity fall into evil, or have such results happened without her knowing 
it? Both these suppositions, indeed, are incredible. But if a man 
should even drop the term Nature [as an efficient power], and 
should speak of these things as natural, even then it would be ridicu- 
lous to affirm at the same time that the parts of the whole are in their 
nature subject to change, and at the same time to be surprised or 
vexed as if something were happening contrary to nature, particu- 
larly as the dissolution of things is into those things of which each 
thing is composed. For there is either a dispersion of the elements 
out of which everything has been compounded, or a change from 
the solid to the earthy and from the airy to the aerial, so that these 
parts are taken back into the universal reason, whether this at certain 
periods is consumed by fire or renewed by eternal changes. And do 
not imagine that the solid and the airy part belong to thee from the 
time of generation. For all this received its accretion only yesterday, 
and the day before, as one may say, from the food and the air which 
is inspired. This, then, which has received [the accretion], changes, 
not that which thy mother brought forth. But suppose that this 
[which thy mother brought forth] implicates thee very much with 


that other part, which has the peculiar quality [of change], this is 
nothing in fact in the way of objection to what is said. 

8. When thou hast assumed these names, good, modest, true, 
rational, a man of equanimity, and magnanimous, take care thou 
dost not change these names; and if thou shouldst lose them, quickly 
return to them. And remember that the term Rational was intended 
to signify a discriminating attention to every several thing and free- 
dom from negligence; and that Equanimity is the voluntary accep- 
tance of the things which are assigned to thee by the common nature; 
and that Magnanimity is the elevation of the intelligent part above 
the pleasurable or painful sensations of the flesh, and above that poor 
thing called fame, and death, and all such things. If, then, thou 
maintainest thyself in the possession of these names, without desiring 
to be called by these names by others, thou wilt be another person and 
wilt enter on another life. For to continue to be such as thou hast 
hitherto been, and to be torn in pieces and defiled in such a life, 
is the character of a very stupid man and one overfond of his life, 
and like those half-devoured fighters with wild beasts, who, though 
covered with wounds and gore, still entreat to be kept to the follow- 
ing day, though they will be exposed in the same state to the same 
claws and bites. Therefore fix thyself in the possession of these few 
names: and if thou art able to abide in them, abide as if thou wast 
removed to certain islands of the Happy. But if thou shalt perceive 
that thou fallest out of them and dost not maintain thy hold, go 
courageously into some nook where thou shalt maintain them, or 
even depart at once from life, not in passion, but with simplicity 
and freedom and modesty, after doing this one [laudable] thing at 
least in thy life, to have gone out of it thus. In order, however, to 
the remembrance of these names, it will greatly help thee, if thou 
rememberest the gods, and that they wish not to be flattered, but wish 
all reasonable beings to be made like themselves; and if thou remem- 
berest that what does the work of a fig-tree is a fig-tree, and 
that what does the work of a dog is a dog, and that what does 
the work of a bee is a bee, and that what does the work of a man 
is a man. 

9. Mimi, war, astonishment, torpor, slavery, will daily wipe out 
those holy principles of thine. How many things without studying 


nature dost thou imagine, and how many dost thou neglect? But 
it is thy duty so to look on and so to do everything, that at the same 
time the power of dealing with circumstances is perfected, and the 
contemplative faculty is exercised, and the confidence which comes 
from the knowledge of each several thing is maintained without 
showing it, but yet not concealed. For when wilt thou enjoy sim- 
plicity, when gravity, and when the knowledge of every several thing, 
both what it is in substance, and what place it has in the universe, and 
how long it is formed to exist, and of what things it is compounded, 
and to whom it can belong, and who are able both to give it and take 
it away? 

10. A spider is proud when it has caught a fly, and another when 
he has caught a poor hare, and another when he has taken the little 
fish in a net, and another when he has taken wild boars, and another 
when he has taken bears, and another when he has taken Sarma- 
tians. Are not these robbers, if thou examinest their opinions? 

11. Acquire the contemplative way of seeing how all things change 
into one another, and constantly attend to it, and exercise thyself 
about this part [of philosophy]. For nothing is so much adapted to 
produce magnanimity. Such a man has put ofi the body, and as he 
sees that he must, no one knows how soon, go away from among 
men and leave everything here, he gives himself up entirely to just 
doing in all his actions, and in everything else that happens he re- 
signs himself to the universal nature. But as to what any man shall 
say or think about him, or do against him, he never even thinks of 
it, being himself contented with these two things, with acting justly 
in what he now does, and being satisfied with what is now assigned 
to him; and he lays aside all distracting and busy pursuits, and desires 
nothing else than to accomplish the straight course through the law, 
and by accomplishing the straight course to follow God. 

12. What need is there of suspicious fear, since it is in thy power to 
inquire what ought to be done? And if thou seest clear, go by this 
way content, without turning back : but if thou dost not see clear, stop 
and take the best advisers. But if any other things oppose thee, go on 
according to thy pxjwers with due consideration, keeping to that 
which app)ears to be just. For it is best to reach this object, and if 
thou dost fail, let thy failure be in attempting this. He who follows 


reason in all things is both tranquil and active at the same time, and 
also cheerful and collected. 

13. Inquire of thyself as soon as thou wakest from sleep whether it 
will make any difference to thee, if another does what is just and 
right. It will make no difference (vi. 32; viii. 55). 

Thou hast not forgotten, I suppose, that those who assume arrogant 
airs in bestowing their praise or blame on others, are such as they 
are at bed and at board, and thou hast not forgotten what they do, 
and what they avoid and what they pursue, and how they steal and 
how they rob, not with hands and feet, but with their most val- 
uable part, by means of which there is produced, when a man 
chooses, fidelity, modesty, truth, law, a good daemon [happiness] ? 
(vii. 17.) 

14. To her who gives and takes back all, to nature, the man who is 
instructed and modest says. Give what thou wilt; take back what 
thou wilt. And he says this not proudly, but obediently and well 
pleased with her. 

15. Short is the little which remains to thee of life. Live as on a 
mountain. For it makes no difference whether a man lives there or 
here, if he lives everywhere in the world as in a state [political com- 
munity]. Let men see, let them know a real man who lives according 
to nature. If they cannot endure him, let them kill him. For that is 
better than to live thus [as men do]. 

16. No longer talk at all about the kind of man that a good man 
ought to be, but be such. 

17. Constantly contemplate the whole of time and the whole of 
substance, and consider that all individual things as to substance are 
a grain of a fig, and as to time the turning of a gimlet. 

18. Look at everything that exists, and observe that it is already in 
dissolution and in change, and as it were putrefaction or dispersion, 
or that everything is so constituted by nature as to die. 

19. Consider what men are when they are eating, sleeping, gener- 
ating, easing themselves and so forth. Then what kind of men they 
are when they are imperious and arrogant, or angry and scolding 
from their elevated place. But a short time ago to how many they 
were slaves and for what things: and after a litde time consider in 
what a condition they will be. 


20. That is for the good of each thing, which the universal nature 
brings to each. And it is for its good at the time when nature 
brings it. 

21. "The earth loves the shower"; and "the solemn aether loves": 
and the universe loves to make whatever is about to be. I say then 
to the universe, that I love as thou lovest. And is not this too said, 
that "this or that loves [is wontj to be produced".' 

22. Either thou livest here and hast already accustomed thyself to 
it, or thou art going away, and this was thy own will; or thou art 
dying and hast discharged thy duty. But besides these things there is 
nothing. Be of good cheer, then. 

23. Let this always be plain to thee, that this piece of land is like 
any other; and that all things here are the same with things on the 
top of a mountain, or on the sea-shore, or wherever thou choosest 
to be. For thou wilt find just what Plato says. Dwelling within the 
walls of a city as in a shepherd's fold on a mountain. [The three 
last words are omitted in the translation.] 

24. What is my ruling faculty now to me? and of what nature am 
I now making it? and for what purpose am I now using it? is it void 
of understanding? is it loosed and rent asunder from social life? is 
it melted into and mixed with the poor flesh so as to move together 
with it ? 

25. He who flies from his master is a runaway; but the law is 
master, and he who breaks the law is a runaway. And he also who 
is grieved or angry or afraid, is dissatisfied because something has 
been or is or shall be of the things which are appointed by him who 
rules all things, and he is Law, and assigns to every man what is 
fit. He then who fears or is grieved or is angry is a runaway. 

26. A man deposits seed in a womb and goes away, and then 
another cause takes it, and labours on it and makes a child. What 
a thing from such a material! Again, the child passes food down 
through the throat, and then another cause takes it and makes per- 
ception and motion, and in fine life and strength and other things; 
how many and how strange! Observe then the things which are 
produced in such a hidden way, and see the power just as we see 
the power which carries things downwards and upwards, not with 
the eyes, but still no less plainly (vii. 75). 


27. Constantly consider how all things such as they now are, in 
time past also were; and consider that they will be the same again. 
And place before thy eyes entire dramas and stages of the same form, 
whatever thou hast learned from thy experience or from older his- 
tory; for example, the whole court of Hadrianus, and the whole court 
of Antoninus, and the whole court of Philippus, Alexander, Crcesus; 
for all those were such dramas as we see now, only with diflerent 

28. Imagine every man who is grieved at anything or discontented 
to be like a pig which is sacrificed and kicks and screams. 

Like this pig also is he who on his bed in silence laments the 
bonds in which we are held. And consider that only to the rational 
animal is it given to follow voluntarily what happens; but simply 
to follow is a necessity imposed on all. 

29. Severally on the occasion of everything that thou doest, pause 
and ask thyself, if death is a dreadful thing because it deprives thee 
of this. 

30. When thou art offended at any man's fault, forthwith turn to 
thyself and reflect in what like manner thou dost err thyself; for 
example, in thinking that money is a good thing, or pleasure, or 
a bit of reputation, and the like. For by attending to this thou wilt 
quickly forget thy anger, if this consideration also is added, that the 
man is compelled; for what else could he do? or, if thou art able, 
take away from him the compulsion. 

31. When thou hast seen Satyron the Socratic, think of either 
Eutyches or Hymen, and when thou hast seen Euphrates, think of 
Eutychion or Silvanus, and when thou hast seen Alciphron, think of 
Tropseophorus, and when thou hast seen Xenophon, think of Crito 
or Severus, and when thou hast looked on thyself, think of any other 
Cscsar, and in the case of every one do in like manner. Then let 
this thought be in thy mind, Where then are those men? Nowhere, 
or nobody knows where. For thus continuously thou wilt look at 
human things as smoke and nothing at all; especially if thou reflect- 
est at the same time that what has once changed will never exist 
again in the infinite duration of time. But thou, in what a brief space 
of time is thy existence? And why art thou not content to pass 
through this short time in an orderly way ? What matter and oppor- 


tunity [for thy activity] art thou avoiding? For what else are all these 
things, except exercises for the reason, when it has viewed carefully 
and by examination into their nature the things which happen in 
life? Persevere then until thou shalt have made these things thy own, 
as the stomach which is strengthened makes all things its own, as 
the blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that 
is thrown into it. 

32. Let it not be in any man's power to say truly of thee that thou 
art not simple or that thou art not good; but let him be a liar who- 
ever shall think anything of this kind about thee; and this is alto- 
gether in thy power. For who is he that shall hinder thee from being 
good and simple? Do thou only determine to live no longer, unless 
thou shalt be such. For neither does reason allow [thee to live], if 
thou art not such. 

33. What is that which as to this material [our life] can be 
done or said in the way most conformable to reason ? For whatever 
this may be, it is in thy power to do it or to say it, and do not make 
excuses that thou art hindered. Thou wilt not cease to lament till 
thy mind is in such a condition that, what luxury is to those who 
enjoy pleasure, such shall be to thee, in the matter which is subjected 
and presented to thee, the doing of the things which are conformable 
to man's constitution; for a man ought to consider as an enjoyment 
everything which it is in his power to do according to his own 
nature. And it is in his power everywhere. Now, it is not given to 
a cylinder to move everywhere by its own motion, nor yet to water 
nor to fire nor to anything else which is governed by nature or an 
irrational soul, for the things which check them and stand in the 
way are many. But intelligence and reason are able to go through 
everything that opposes them, and in such manner as they are 
formed by nature and as they choose. Place before thy eyes this 
facility with which the reason will be carried through all things, as 
fire upwards, as a stone downwards, as a cylinder down an inclined 
surface, and seek for nothing further. For all other obstacles either 
affect the body only which is a dead thing; or, except through 
opinion and the yielding of the reason itself, they do not crush nor 
do any harm of any kind; for if they did, he who felt it would im- 


mediately become bad. Now, in the case of all things which have a 
certain constitution, whatever harm may happen to any of them, that 
which is so affected becomes consequently worse; but in the like case, 
a man becomes both better, if one may say so, and more worthy of 
praise by making a right use of these accidents. And finally remem- 
ber that nothing harms him who is really a citizen, which does not 
harm the state; nor yet does anything harm the state which does not 
harm law [order]; and of these things which are called misfortunes 
not one harms law. What then does not harm law does not harm 
either state or citizen. 

34. To him who is penetrated by true principles even the briefest 
precept is sufficient, and any common precept, to remind him that he 
should be free from grief and fear. For example: 

Leaves, some the wind scatters on the ground — 
So is the race of men. 

Leaves, also, are thy children; and leaves, too, are they who cry out 
as if they were worthy of credit and bestow their praise, or on the 
contrary curse, or secretly blame and sneer; and leaves, in like man- 
ner, are those who shall receive and transmit a man's fame to after- 
times. For all such things as these "are produced in the season of 
spring," as the poet says; then the wind casts them down; then the 
forest produces other leaves in their places. But a brief existence is 
common to all things, and yet thou avoidest and pursuest all things as 
if they would be eternal. A Uttle time, and thou shalt close thy eyes; 
and him who has attended thee to thy grave another soon will lament. 

35. The healthy eye ought to see all visible things and not to say, 
I wish for green things; for this is the condition of a diseased eye. 
And the healthy hearing and smelling ought to be ready to perceive 
all that can be heard and smelled. And the healthy stomach ought 
to be with respect to all food just as the mill with respect to all 
things which it is formed to grind. And accordingly the healthy 
understanding ought to be prepared for everything which happens; 
but that which says. Let my dear children live, and let all men praise 
whatever I may do, is an eye which seeks for green things, or teeth 
which seek for soft things. 


36. There is no man so fortunate that there shall not be by him 
when he is dying some who are pleased with what is going to hap- 
pen. Suppose that he was a good and wise man, will there not be at 
last some one to say to himself, Let us at last breathe freely, being 
relieved from this schoolmaster? It is true that he was harsh to 
none of us, but I perceived that he tacitly condemns us. — This is what 
is said of a good man. But in our own case how many other things 
are there for which there are many who wish to get rid of us. Thou 
will consider this then when thou art dying, and thou wilt depart 
more contentedly by reflecting thus: I am going away from such a 
life, in which even my associates in behalf of whom I have striven 
so much, prayed, and cared, themselves wish me to depart, hoping 
perchance to get some little advantage by it. Why, then, should a 
man cling to a longer stay here? Do not, however, for this reason 
go away less kindly disposed to them, but preserving thy own char- 
acter, and friendly and benevolent and mild, and on the other hand 
not as if thou wast torn away; but as when a man dies a quiet death, 
the poor soul is easily separated from the body, such also ought thy 
departure from men to be, for nature united thee to them and asso- 
ciated thee. But does she now dissolve the union? Well, I am sep- 
arated as from kinsmen, not, however, dragged resisting, but without 
compulsion; for this too is one of the things according to nature. 

37. Accustom thyself as much as possible on the occasion of any- 
thing being done by any person to inquire with thyself, For what 
object is this man doing this? but begin with thyself, and examine 
thyself first. 

38. Remember that this which pulls the strings is the thing which 
is hidden within: this is the power of persuasion, this is life; this, if 
one may so say, is man. In contemplating thyself never include the 
vessel which surrounds thee, and these instruments which are 
attached about it. For they are like to an ax, differing only in this, 
that they grow to the body. For indeed there is no more use in these 
parts without the cause which moves and checks them than in the 
weaver's shuttle, and the writer's pen, and the driver's whip. 



THESE are the properties of the rational soul: it sees itself, 
analyzes itself, and makes itself such as it chooses; the fruit 
which it bears itself enjoys — for the fruits of plants and that 
in animals which corresponds to fruits others enjoy — it obtains its 
own end, wherever the limit of life may be fixed. Not as in a dance 
and in a play and in suchlike things, where the whole action is in- 
complete, if anything cuts it short; but in every part and wherever 
it may be stopped, it makes what has been set before it full and com- 
plete, so that it can say, I have what is my own. And further it tra- 
verses the whole universe, and the surrounding vacuum, and surveys 
its form, and it extends itself into the infinity of time, and embraces 
and comprehends the periodical renovation of all things, and it 
comprehends that those who come after us will see nothing new, 
nor have those before us seen anything more, but in a manner he 
who is forty years old, if he has any understanding at all, has seen 
by virtue of the uniformity that prevails all things which have been 
and all that will be. This too is a property of the rational soul, love 
of one's neighbour, and truth and modesty, and to value nothing 
more than itself, which is also the property of Law. Thus then right 
reason differs not at all from the reason of justice. 

2. Thou wilt set little value on pleasing song and dancing and the 
pancratium, if thou wilt distribute the melody of the voice into its 
several sounds, and ask thyself as to each, if thou art mastered by 
this; for thou wilt be prevented by shame from confessing it: and in 
the matter of dancing, if at each movement and attitude thou wilt 
do the same; and the like also in the matter of the pancratium. In 
all things, then, except virtue and the acts of virtue, remember to 
apply thyself to their several parts, and by this division to come to 
value them little: and apply this rule also to thy whole life. 

3. What a soul that is which is ready, if at any moment it must be 
separated from the body, and ready either to be extinguished or dis- 
persed or continue to exist; but so that this readiness comes from a 
man's own judgment, not from mere obstinacy, as with the Chris- 
tians, but considerately and with dignity and in a way to persuade 
another, without tragic show. 


4. Have I done something for the general interest? Well, then, I 
have had my reward. Let this always be present to thy mind, and 
never stop [doing such good]. 

5. What is thy art? to be good. And how is this accomplished 
well except by general principles, some about the nature of the 
universe, and others about the proper constitution of man? 

6. At first tragedies were brought on the stage as means of re- 
minding men of the things which happen to them, and that it is ac- 
cording to nature for things to happen so, and that, if you are de- 
lighted with what is shown on the stage, you should not be troubled 
with that which takes place on the larger stage. For you see that 
these things must be accomplished thus, and that even they bear them 
who cry out, "O Cithxron." And, indeed, some things are said well 
by the dramatic writers, of which kind is the following especially— 

Me and my children if the gods neglect. 
This has its reason too. 

And again — 

We must not chafe and fret at that which happens. 


Life's harvest reap like the wheat's fruitful ear. 

And other things of the same kind. 

After tragedy the old comedy was introduced, which had a magis- 
terial freedom of sfjeech, and by its very plainness of speaking was 
useful in reminding men to beware of insolence; and for this pur- 
pose too Diogenes used to take from these writers. 

But as to the middle comedy which came next, observe what it 
was, and again, for what object the new comedy was introduced, 
which gradually sunk down into a mere mimic artifice. That some 
good things are said even by these writers, everybody knows: but the 
whole plan of such poetry and dramaturgy, to what end does it 

7. How plain does it appear that there is not another condition of 
life so well suited for philosophizing as this in which thou now 
happenest to be. 

8. A branch cut oS. from the adjacent branch must of necessity 


be cut off from the whole tree also. So too a man when he is sepa- 
rated from another man has fallen off from the whole social com- 
munity. Now as to a branch, another cuts it off, but a man by his 
own act separates himself from his neighbour when he hates him and 
turns away from him, and he does not know that he has at the same 
time cut himself off from the whole social system. Yet he has this 
privilege certainly from Zeus who framed society, for it is in our 
power to grow again to that which is near to us, and again to be- 
come a part which helps to make up the whole. However, if it 
often happens, this kind of separation, it makes it difficult for that 
which detaches itself to be brought to unity and to be restored to its 
former condition. Finally, the branch, which from the first grew 
together with the tree, and has continued to have one life with 
it, is not like that which after being cut off is then ingrafted, 
for this is something like what the gardeners mean when they say 
that it grows with the rest of the tree, but that it has not the same 
mind with it. 

9. As those who try to stand in thy way when thou art proceed- 
ing according to right reason, will not be able to turn thee aside from 
thy proper action, so neither let them drive thee from thy benevolent 
feelings towards them, but be on thy guard equally in both matters, 
not only in the matter of steady judgment and action, but also in 
the matter of gentleness towards those who try to hinder or other- 
wise trouble thee. For this also is a weakness, to be vexed at them, 
as well as to be diverted from thy course of action and to give way 
through fear; for both are equally deserters from their post, the man 
who does it through fear, and the man who is alienated from him 
who is by nature a kinsman and a friend. 

10. There is no nature which is inferior to art, for the arts imitate 
the natures of things. But if this is so, that nature which is the most 
perfect and the most comprehensive of all natures, cannot fall short 
of the skill of art. Now all arts do the inferior things for the sake 
of the superior; therefore the universal nature does so too. And, 
indeed, hence is the origin of justice, and in justice the other virtues 
have their foundation: for justice will not be observed, if we either 
care for middle things [things indifferent], or are easily deceived 
and careless and changeable (v. 16, 30; vii. 55), 


11. If the things do not come to thee, the pursuits and avoidances 
of which disturb thee, still in a manner thou goest to them. Let then 
thy judgment about them be at rest, and they will remain quiet, 
and thou wih not be seen either pursuing or avoiding. 

12. The spherical form of the soul maintains its figure, when it 
is neither extended towards any object, nor contracted inwards, nor 
dispersed nor sinks down, but is illuminated by light, by which it 
sees the truth, the truth of all things and the truth that is in itself 
(viii. 41, 45; xii. 3). 

13. Suppose any man shall despise me. Let him look to that him- 
self. But I will look to this, that I be not discovered doing or saying 
anything deserving of contempt. Shall any man hate me? Let him 
look to it. But I will be mild and benevolent towards every man, 
and ready to show even him his mistake, not reproachfully, nor yet 
as making a display of my endurance, but nobly and honestly, like 
the great Phocion, unless indeed he only assumed it. For the interior 
[parts] ought to be such, and a man ought to be seen by the gods 
neither dissatisfied with anything nor complaining. For what evil 
is it to thee, if thou art now doing what is agreeable to thy own 
nature, and art satisfied with that which at this moment is suitable 
to the nature of the universe, since thou art a human being placed at 
thy post in order that what is for the common advantage may be 
done in some way? 

14. Men despise one another and flatter one another; and men 
wish to raise themselves above one another, and crouch before one 

15. How unsound and insincere is he who says, I have determined 
to deal with thee in a fair way. — What art thou doing, man? There 
is no occasion to give this notice. It will soon show itself by acts. The 
voice ought to be plainly written on the forehead. Such as a man's 
character is, he immediately shows it in his eyes, just as he who is 
beloved forthwith reads everything in the eyes of lovers. The man 
who is honest and good ought to be exactly like a man who smells 
strong, so that the bystander as soon as he comes near him must 
smell whether he choose or not. But the affectation of simplicity is 
like a crooked stick. Nothing is more disgraceful than a wolfish 


friendship [false friendship]. Avoid this most of all. The good 
and simple and benevolent show all these things in the eyes, and 
there is no mistaking. 

16. As to living in the best way, this power is in the soul, if it be 
indifferent to things which are indifferent. And it will be indifferent, 
if it looks on each of these things separately and all together, and if 
it remembers that not one of them produces in us an opinion about 
itself, nor comes to us; but these things remain immovable, and it 
is we ourselves who produce the judgments about them, and, as 
we may say, write them in ourselves, it being in our power not to 
write them, and it being in our power, if perchance these judgments 
have imperceptibly got admission to our minds, to wipe them out; 
and if we remember also that such attention will only be for a short 
time, and then life will be at an end. Besides, what trouble is there 
at all in doing this? For if these things are according to nature, 
rejoice in them, and they will be easy to thee: but if contrary to 
nature, seek what is conformable to thy own nature, and strive 
towards this, even if it bring no reputation; for every man is allowed 
to seek his own good. 

17. Consider whence each thing is come, and of what it consists, 
and into what it changes, and what kind of a thing it will be when 
it has changed, and that it will sustain no harm. 

i8. [If any have offended against thee, consider first]: What is 
my relation to men, and that we are made for one another; and in 
another respect, I was made to be set over them, as a ram over the 
flock or a bull over the herd. But examine the matter from first 
principles, from this: If all things are not mere atoms, it is nature 
which orders all things: if this is so, the inferior things exist for 
the sake of the superior, and these for the sake of one another (ii. i; 
ix. 39; V. 16; iii. 4). 

Second, consider what kind of men they are at table, in bed, and 
so forth; and particularly, under what compulsions in respect of 
opinions they are; and as to their acts, consider with what pride they 
do what they do (viii. 14; ix. 34). 

Third, that if men do rightly what they do, we ought not to be 
displeased; but if they do not right, it is plain that they do so involun- 


tarily and in ignorance. For as every soul is unwillingly deprived 
of the truth, so also is it unwilhngly deprived of the powrer of 
behaving to each man according to his deserts. Accordingly men 
are pained when they are called unjust, ungrateful, and greedy, and 
in a word wrong-doers to their neighbours (vii. 62, 63; ii. i; vii. 26; 
viii. 29). 

Fourth, consider that thou also doest many things wrong, and 
that thou art a man hke others; and even if thou dost abstain 
from certain faults, still thou hast the disposition to commit them, 
though either through cowardice, or concern about reputation or 
some such mean motive, thou dost abstain from such faults 

Fifth, consider that thou dost not even understand whether men 
are doing wrong or not, for many things are done with a certain 
reference to circumstances. And, in short, a man must learn a great 
deal to enable him to pass a correct judgment on another man's acts 
(ix. 38; iv. 51). 

Sixth, consider when thou art much vexed or grieved, that man's 
life is only a moment, and after a short time we are all laid out 
dead (vii. 58; iv. 48). 

Seventh, that it is not men's acts which disturb us, for those acts 
have their foundation in men's ruling principles, but it is our own 
opinions which disturb us. Take away these opinions then, and 
resolve to dismiss thy judgment about an act as if it were something 
grievous, and thy anger is gone. How then shall I take away these 
opinions? By reflecting that no wrongful act of another brings 
shame on thee: for unless that which is shameful is alone bad, thou 
also must of necessity do many things wrong, and become a robber 
and everything else (v. 25; vii. 16). 

Eighth, consider how much more pain is brought on us by the 
anger and vexation caused by such acts than by the acts themselves, 
at which we are angry and vexed (iv. 39, 49; vii. 24). 

Ninth, consider that a good disposition is invincible, if it be 
genuine, and not an affected smile and acting a part. For what will 
the most violent man do to thee, if thou continuest to be of a kind 
disposition towards him, and if, as opportunity offers, thou gently 
admonishest him and calmly correctest his errors at the very time 
when he is trying to do thee harm, saying, Not so, my child: we are 


constituted by nature for something else: I shall certainly not be 
injured, but thou art injuring thyself, my child. — And show him 
with gentle tact and by general principles that this is so, and that 
even bees do not do as he does, nor any animals which are formed 
by nature to be gregarious. And thou must do this neither with 
any double meaning nor in the way of reproach, but affectionately 
and without any rancour in thy soul; and not as if thou wert lectur- 
ing him, nor yet that any bystander may admire, but either when he 
is alone, and if others are present. . .' 

Remember these nine rules, as if thou hadst received them as a 
gift from the Muses, and begin at last to be a man while thou livest. 
But thou must equally avoid flattering men and being vexed at 
them, for both are unsocial and lead to harm. And let this truth be 
present to thee in the excitement of anger, that to be moved by pas- 
sion is not manly, but that mildness and gentleness, as they are more 
agreeable to human nature, so also are they more manly; and he who 
possesses these qualities possesses strength, nerves and courage, and 
not the man who is subject to fits of passion and discontent. For in 
the same degree in which a man's mind is nearer to freedom from 
all passion, in the same degree also is it nearer to strength: and as the 
sense of pain is a characteristic of weakness, so also is anger. For he 
who yields to pain and he who yields to anger, both are wounded 
and both submit. 

But if thou wilt, receive also a tenth present from the leader of 
the [Muses, Apollo], and it is this — that to expect bad men not to do 
wrong is madness, for he who expects this desires an impossibility. 
But to allow men to behave so to others, and to expect them not to 
do thee any wrong, is irrational and tyrannical. 

19. There are four principal aberrations of the superior faculty 
against which thou shouldst be constantly on thy guard, and when 
thou hast detected them, thou shouldst wif)e them out and say on 
each occasion thus: this thought is not necessary : this tends to destroy 
social union: this which thou art going to say comes not from the 
real thoughts; for thou shouldst consider it among the most absurd 
of things for a man not to sjjeak from his real thoughts. But the 
fourth is when thou shalt reproach thyself for anything, for this is 
an evidence of the diviner part within thee being overpowered and 
' It appears that there is a defect in the text here. 


yielding to the less honourable and to the perishable part, the body, 
and to its gross pleasures (iv. 24; ii. 16). 

20. Thy aerial part and all the fiery parts which are mingled in 
thee, though by nature they have an upward tendency, still in 
obedience to the disposition of the universe they are overpowered 
here in the compound mass [the body]. And also the whole of the 
earthy part in thee and the watery, though their tendency is down- 
wards, still are raised up and occupy a position which is not their 
natural one. In this manner then the elemental parts obey the uni- 
versal, for when they have been fixed in any place perforce they 
remain there until again the universal shall sound the signal for 
dissolution. Is it not then strange that thy intelligent part only 
should be disobedient and discontented with its own place? And 
yet no force is imposed on it, but only those things which are con- 
formable to its nature: still it does not submit, but is carried in the 
opposite direction. For the movement towards injustice and intem- 
perance and to anger and grief and fear is nothing else than the act 
of one who deviates from nature. And also when the ruling faculty 
is discontented with anything that happens, then too it deserts its 
post: for it is constituted for piety and reverence towards the gods 
no less than for justice. For these qualities also are comprehended 
under the generic term of contentment with the constitution of 
things, and indeed they are prior to acts of justice. 

21. He who has not one and always the same object in life, can- 
not be one and the same all through his life. But what I have said 
is not enough, unless this also is added, what this object ought to be. 
For as there is not the same opinion about all the things which in 
some way or other are considered by the majority to be good, but only 
about some certain things, that is, things which concern the com- 
mon interest; so also ought we to propose to ourselves an object 
which shall be of a common kind [social] and political. For he who 
directs all his own efforts to this object, will make all his acts alike, 
and thus will always be the same. 

22. Think of the country mouse and of the town mouse, and of 
the alarm and trepidation of the town mouse. 

23. Socrates used to call the opinions of the many by the name of 
Lami£, bugbears to frighten children. 


24. The Lacedemonians at their pubUc spectacles used to set seats 
in the shade for strangers, but themselves sat down anywhere. 

25. Socrates excused himself to Perdiccas for not going to him, 
saying, It is because I would not perish by the worst of all ends, that 
is, I would not receive a favour and then be unable to return it. 

26. In the writings of the [Ephesians] there was this precept, 
constantly to think of some one of the men of former times who 
practised virtue. 

27. The Pythagoreans bid us in the morning look to the heavens 
that we may be reminded of those bodies which continually do the 
same things and in the same manner perform their work, and also be 
reminded of their purity and nudity. For there is no veil over a star. 

28. Consider what a man Socrates was when he dressed himself 
in a skin, after Xanthippe had taken his cloak and gone out, and 
what Socrates said to his friends who were ashamed of him and 
drew back from him when they saw him dressed thus. 

29. Neither in writing nor in reading wilt thou be able to lay 
down rules for others before thou shalt have first learned to obey 
rules thyself. Much more is this so in life. 

30. A slave thou art: free speech is not for thee. 

31. — And my heart laughed within (Od. ix. 413). 

32. And virtue they will curse speaking harsh words (Hesiod, 
"Works and Days," 184). 

33. To look for the fig in winter is a madman's act: such is he 
who looks for his child when it is no longer allowed (Epictetus, 
iii. 24, 87). 

34. When a man kisses his child, said Epictetus, he should whisper 
to himself, "To-morrow perchance thou wilt die." — But those are 
words of bad omen. — ^"No word is a word of bad omen," said 
Epictetus, "which expresses any work of nature; or if it is so, it is 
also a word of bad omen to speak of the ears of corn being reaped" 
(Epictetus, iii. 24, 88). 

35. The unripe grape, the ripe bunch, the dried grape all are 
changes, not into nothing, but into something which exists not yet 
(Epictetus, iii. 24). 

36. No man can rob us of our free will (Epictetus, iii. 22, 105). 

37. Epictetus also said, a man must discover an art [or rules] 


with respect to giving his assent; and in respect to his movements he 
must be careful that they be made with regard to circumstances, 
that they be consistent with social interests, that they have regard to 
the value of the object; and as to sensual desire, he should altogether 
keep away from it; and as to avoidance [aversion], he should not 
show it with respect to any of the things which are not in our jX)wer. 

38. The dispute then, he said, is not about any common matter, 
but about being mad or not. 

39. Socrates used to say, What do you want? Souls of rational 
men or irrational ? — Souls of rational men. — Of what rational men ? 
Sound or unsound ? — Sound. — Why then do you not seek for them ? 
— Because we have them. — Why then do you fight and quarrel? 

A LL those things at which thou wishest to arrive by a circuitous 

/ \ road, thou canst have now, if thou dost not refuse them to 
X .^ thyself. And this means, if thou wilt take no notice of all 
the past, and trust the future to providence, and direct the present 
only conformably to piety and justice. Conformably to piety, that 
thou mayest be content with the lot which is assigned to thee, for 
nature designed it for thee and thee for it. Conformably to justice, 
that thou mayest always speak the truth freely and without disguise, 
and do the things which are agreeable to law and according to the 
worth of each. And let neither another man's wickedness hinder 
thee, nor opinion nor voice, nor yet the sensations of the poor flesh 
which has grown about thee; for the passive part will look to this. 
If then, whatever the time may be when thou shalt be near to thy 
departure, neglecting everything else thou shalt respect only thy 
ruling faculty and the divinity within thee, and if thou shalt be 
afraid not because thou must sometime cease to live, but if thou shalt 
fear never to have begun to live according to nature — then thou wilt 
be a man worthy of the universe which has produced thee, and thou 
wilt cease to be a stranger in thy native land, and to wonder at things 
which happen daily as if they were something unexpected, and to be 
dependent on this or that. 

2. God sees the minds [ruling principles] of all men bared of 
the material vesture and rind and impurities. For with his intellec- 


tual part alone he touches the intelUgence only which has flowed and 
been derived from himself into these bodies. And if thou also usest 
thyself to do this, thou wilt rid thyself of thy much trouble. For he 
who regards not the poor flesh which envelops him, surely will not 
trouble himself by looking after raiment and dwelling and fame 
and suchlike externals and show. 

3. The things are three of which thou art composed, a Utde body, 
a little breath [life], intelligence. Of these the first two are thine, so 
far as it is thy duty to take care of them; but the third alone is prop- 
erly thine. Therefore, if thou shalt separate from thyself, that is, 
from thy understanding, whatever others do or say, and whatever 
thou hast done or said thyself, and whatever future things trouble 
thee because they may happen, and whatever in the body which 
envelops thee, or in the breath [life], which is by nature associated 
with the body, is attached to thee independent of thy will, and what- 
ever the external circumfluent vortex whirls round, so that the 
intellectual power exempt from the things of fate can live pure and 
free by itself, doing what is just and accepting what happens and 
saying the truth: if thou wilt separate, I say, from this ruling faculty 
the things which are attached to it by the impressions of sense, and 
the things of time to come and of time that is past, and wilt make 
thyself hke Empedocles' sphere — 

All round, and in its joyous rest reposing; 

and if thou shalt strive to live only what is really thy life, that is, 
the present, then thou wilt be able to pass that portion of life which 
remains for thee up to the time of thy death, free from perturbations, 
nobly, and obedient to thy own dimon [to the god that is within 
thee] (ii. 13, 17; iii. 5, 6; xi. 12). 

4. I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself 
more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own 
opinion of himself than on the opinion of others. If then a god or a 
wise teacher should present himself to a man and bid him to think of 
nothing and to design nothing which he would not express as soon 
AS he conceived it, he could not endure it even for a single day. So 
much more respect have we to what our neighbours shall think of 
us than to what we shall think of ourselves. 


5. How can it be that the gods, after having arranged all things 
well and benevolently for mankind, have overlooked this alone, that 
some men and very good men, and men who, as we may say, have 
had most communion with the divinity, and through pious acts and 
religious observances have been most intimate with the divinity, 
when they have once died should never exist again, but should be 
completely extinguished ? 

But if this is so, be assured that if it ought to have been otherwise, 
the gods would have done it. For if it were just, it would also be 
possible; and if it were according to nature, nature would have had 
it so. But because it is not so, if in fact it is not so, be thou con- 
vinced that it ought not to have been so: — for thou seest even of 
thyself that in this inquiry thou art disputing with the deity; and 
we should not thus dispute with the gods, unless they were most ex- 
cellent and most just; — but if this is so, they would not have allowed 
anything in the ordering of the universe to be neglected unjustly and 

6. Practise thyself even in the things which thou despairest of 
accomplishing. For even the left hand, which is ineffectual for all 
other things for want of practice, holds the bridle more vigorously 
than the right hand; for it has been practised in this. 

7. Consider in what condition, both in body and soul, a man 
should be when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness 
of life, the boundless abyss of time, past and future, the feebleness 
of all matter. 

8. Contemplate the formative principles [forms] of things bare of 
their coverings; the purposes of actions; consider what pain is, what 
pleasure is, and death, and fame; who is to himself the cause of his 
uneasiness; how no man is hindered by another; that everything is 

9. In the application of thy principles thou must be like the 
pancratiast, not like the gladiator; for the gladiator lets fall the sword 
which he uses and is killed; but the other always has his hand, and 
needs to do nothing else than use it. 

10. See what things are in themselves, dividing them into matter, 
form and purpose. 


11. What a power man has to do nothing except what God will 
approve, and to accept all that God may give him. 

12. With respect to that which happens conformably to nature, 
we ought to blame neither gods, for they do nothing wrong either 
voluntarily or involuntarily, nor men, for they do nothing wrong 
except involuntarily. Consequently we should blame nobody (ii. 11, 
12, 13; vii. 62; viii. 17). 

13. How ridiculous and what a stranger he is who is surprised at 
anything which happens in life. 

14. Either there is a fatal necessity and invincible order, or a kind 
providence, or a confusion without a purpose and without a director 
(iv. 27). If then there is an invincible necessity, why dost thou 
resist? But if there is a providence which allows itself to be propi- 
tiated, make thyself worthy of the help of the divinity. But if there 
is a confusion without a governor, be content that in such a tempest 
thou hast in thyself a certain ruling intelligence. And even if the 
tempest carry thee away, let it carry away the poor flesh, the poor 
breath, everything else; for the intelligence at least it will not carry 

15. Does the light of the lamp shine without losing its splendour 
until it is extinguished; and shall the truth which is in thee and jus- 
tice and temperance be extinguished [before thy death] ? 

16. When a man has presented the appearance of having done 
wrong, [say], How then do I know if this is a wrongful act? And 
even if he has done wrong, how do I know that he has not con- 
demned himself? and so this is like tearing his own face. Consider 
that he who would not have the bad man do wrong, is like the man 
who would not have the fig-tree to bear juice in the figs and infants 
to cry and the horse to neigh, and whatever else must of necessity be. 
For what must a man do who has such a character? If then thou 
art irritable, cure this man's disposition. 

17. If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do not say it. 
[For let thy efforts be.—]' 

18. In everything always observe what the thing is which pro- 
duces for thee an appearance, and resolve it by dividing it into the 

'There is something wrong here, or incomplete. 


formal, the material, the purpose, and the time within which it must 

19. Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something better and 
more divine than the things which cause the various effects, and as 
it were pull thee by the strings. What is there now in my mind ? is 
it fear, or suspicion, or desire, or anything of the kind? (v. ii.) 

20. First, do nothing inconsiderately, nor without a purpose. 
Second, make thy acts refer to nothing else than to a social end. 

21. Consider that before long thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, 
nor will any of the things exist which thou now seest, nor any of 
those who are now living. For all things are formed by nature to 
change and be turned and to perish in order that other things in 
continuous succession may exist (ix. 28). 

22. Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in thy 
power. Take away then, when thou choosest, thy opinion, and like 
a mariner, who has doubled the promontory, thou wilt find calm, 
everything stable, and a waveless bay. 

23. Any one activity, whatever it may be, when it has ceased at 
its proper time, suffers no evil because it has ceased; nor he who has 
done this act, does he suffer any evil for this reason that the act has 
ceased. In like manner then the whole which consists of all the 
acts, which is our Hfe, if it cease at its proper time, suflers no evil for 
this reason that it has ceased; nor he who has terminated this series 
at the proper time, has he been ill dealt with. But the prof)er time 
and the limit nature fixes, sometimes as in old age the peculiar nature 
of man, but always the universal nature, by the change of whose 
parts the whole universe continues ever young and perfect. And 
everything which is useful to the universal is always good and in 
season. Therefore the termination of life for every man is no evil, 
because neither is it shameful, since it is both independent of the will 
and not opposed to the general interest, but it is good, since it is 
seasonable and profitable to and congruent with the universal. For 
thus too he is moved by the deity who is moved in the same manner 
with the deity and moved towards the same things in his mind, 

24. These three principles thou must have in readiness. In the 
things which thou doest do nothing either inconsiderately or other- 
wise than as justice herself would act; but with respect to what may 


happen to thee from without, consider that it happens either by 
chance or according to providence, and thou must neither blame 
chance nor accuse providence. Second, consider what every being 
is from the seed to the time of its receiving a soul, and from the 
reception of a soul to the giving back of the same, and of what things 
every being is compounded and into what things it is resolved. Third, 
if thou shouldst suddenly be raised up above the earth, and shouldst 
look down on human beings, and observe the variety of them how 
great it is, and at the same time also shouldst see at a glance how 
great is the number of beings who dwell all around in the air and 
the sther, consider that as often as thou shouldst be raised up, thou 
wouldst see the same things, sameness of form and shortness of 
duration. Are these things to be proud of? 

25. Cast away opinion: thou art saved. Who then hinders thee 
from casting it away? 

26. When thou art troubled about anything, thou hast forgotten 
this, that all things happen according to the universal nature; and 
forgotten this, that a man's wrongful act is nothing to thee; and 
further thou hast forgotten this, that everything which happens, 
always happened so and will happen so, and now happens so every- 
where; forgotten this too, how close is the kinship between a man 
and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a litde blood 
or seed, but of intelligence. And thou hast forgotten this too, that 
every man's intelligence is a god, and is an efflux of the deity; and 
forgotten this, that nothing is a man's own, but that his child and 
his body and his very soul came from the deity; forgotten this, that 
everything is opinion; and lastly thou hast forgotten that every man 
lives the present time only, and loses only this. 

27. Constantly bring to thy recollection those who have com- 
plained greatly about anything, those who have been most con- 
spicuous by the greatest fame or misfortunes or enmities or fortunes 
of any kind: then think where are they all now? Smoke and ash 
and a tale, or not even a tale. And let there be present to thy mind 
also everything of this sort, how Fabius CatuUinus Uved in the 
country, and Lucius Lupus in his gardens, and Stertinius at Baix, 
and Tiberius at Capreje, and Velius Rufus [or Rufus at Veha]; 
and in fine think of the eager pursuit of anything conjoined with 


pride; and how worthless everything is after which men violendy 
strain; and how much more philosophical it is for a man in the 
opportunities presented to him to show himself just, temperate, obe- 
dient to the gods, and to do this with all simplicity: for the pride 
which is proud of its want of pride is the most intolerable of all. 

28. To those who ask, Where hast thou seen the gods or how 
dost thou comprehend that they exist and so worshipest them? I 
answer, in the first place, they may be seen even with the eyes; in 
the second place, neither have I seen even my own soul and yet I 
honour it. Thus then with respect to the gods, from what I con- 
stantly experience of their power, from this I comprehend that they 
exist and I venerate them. 

29. The safety of life is this, to examine everything all through, 
what it is itself, what is its material, what the formal part; with all 
thy soul to do justice and to say the truth. What remains except to 
enjoy life by joining one good thing to another so as not to leave 
even the smallest intervals between? 

30. There is one light of the sun, though it is interrupted by walls, 
mountains, and other things infinite. There is one common sub- 
stance, though it is distributed among countless bodies which have 
their several qualities. There is one soul, though it is distributed 
among infinite natures and individual circumscriptions [or individ- 
uals]. There is one intelligent soul, though it seems to be divided. 
Now in the things which have been mentioned all the other parts, 
such as those which are air and matter, are without sensation and 
have no fellowship: and yet even these parts the intelligent principle 
holds together, and the gravitation towards the same. But intellect in 
a peculiar manner tends to that which is of the same kin, and com- 
bines with it, and the feeling for communion is not interrupted. 

31. What dost thou wish? to continue to exist? Well, dost thou 
wish to have sensation? movement? growth? and then again to 
cease to grow? to use thy speech? to think? What is there of all 
these things which seem to thee worth desiring? But if it is easy to 
set little value on all these things, turn to that which remains, which 
is to follow reason and god. But it is inconsistent with honouring 
reason and god to be troubled because by death a man will be 
deprived of the other things. 


32. How small a part of the boundless and unfathomable time is 
assigned to every man! for it is very soon swallowed up in the eternal. 
And how small a part of the whole substance! and how small a part 
of the universal soul! and on what a small clod of the whole earth 
thou creepest! Reflecting on all this, consider nothing to be great, 
except to act as thy nature leads thee, and to endure that which the 
common nature brings. 

33. How does the ruling faculty make use of itself? for all lies in 
this. But everything else, whether it is in the power of thy will or 
not, is only lifeless ashes and smoke. 

34. This reflection is most adapted to move us to contempt of 
death, that even those who think pleasure to be a good and pain an 
evil still have despised it. 

35. The man to whom that only is good which comes in due 
season, and to whom it is the same thing whether he has done more 
or fewer acts conformable to right reason, and to whom it makes no 
difference whether he contemplates the world for a longer or a 
shorter time — for this man neither is death a terrible thing (iii. 7; 
vi. 23; X. 20; xii. 23). 

36. Man, thou hast been a citizen in this great state [the world] : 
what difference does it make to thee whether for five years [or 
three] ? for that which is conformable to the laws is just for all. 
Where is the hardship then, if no tyrant nor yet an unjust judge 
sends thee away from the state, but nature who brought thee into it ? 
the same as if a prjetor who has employed an actor dismisses him 
from the stage. — "But I have not finished the five acts, but only 
three of them." — Thou sayest well, but in life the three acts are the 
whole drama; for what shall be a complete drama is determined 
by him who was once the cause of its composition, and now of its 
dissolution: but thou art the cause of neither. Depart then satisfied, 
for he also who releases thee is satisfied. 



M ANTONINUS was born at Rome a.d. 121, on the 26th 
of April. His father Annius Verus died while he was 
, praetor. His mother was Domitia Calvilla, also named 
Lucilla. The Emperor T. Antoninus Pius married Annia Galeria 
Faustina, the sister of Annius Verus, and was consequently the uncle 
of M. Antoninus. When Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius and 
declared him his successor in the empire, Antoninus Pius adopted 
both L. Ceionius Commodus, the son of ^Elius Caesar, and M. 
Antoninus, whose original name was M. Annius Verus. Antoninus 
then took the name of M. iElius Aurelius Verus, to which was 
added the title of Caesar in a.d. 139: the name ^lius belonged to 
Hadrian's family, and Aurelius was the name of Antoninus Pius. 
When M. Antoninus became Augustus, he dropped the name of 
Verus and took the name of Antoninus. Accordingly he is generally 
named M. Aurelius Antoninus or simply M. Antoninus. 

The youth was most carefully brought up. He thanks the gods 
(i. 17) that he had good grandfathers, good parents, a good sister, 
good teachers, good associates, good kinsmen and friends, nearly 
everything good. He had the happy fortune to witness the example 
of his uncle and adoptive father Antoninus Pius, and he has recorded 
in his work (i. 16; vi. 30) the virtues of this excellent man and 
prudent ruler. Like many young Romans he tried his hand at poetry 
and studied rhetoric. Herodes Atticus and M. Cornelius Fronto 
were his teachers in eloquence. There are extant letters between 
Fronto and Marcus,' which show the great affection of the pupil 
for the master, and the master's great hopes of his industrious pupil. 
M. Antoninus mentions Fronto (i. 11) among those to whom he 
was indebted for his education. 

'M. Cornelii Frontonis Reliquiz, Berlin, 1816. There arc a few letters between 
Fronto and Antoninus Pius. 


M. AURELius A^n^oNINUs 303 

When he was eleven years old, he assumed the dress of philos- 
ophers, something plain and coarse, became a hard student, and lived 
a most laborious, abstemious life, even so far as to injure his health. 
Finally, he abandoned f)oetry and rhetoric for philosophy, and he 
attached himself to the sect of the Stoics. But he did not neglect the 
study of law, which was a useful preparation for the high place which 
he was designed to fill. His teacher was L. Volusianus Maecianus, 
a distinguished jurist. We must suppose that he learned the Roman 
discipline of arms, which was a necessary part of the education of a 
man who afterwards led his troops to battle against a warlike race. 

Antoninus has recorded in his first book the names of his teachers 
and the obligations which he owed to each of them. The way in 
which he speaks of what he learned from them might seem to savour 
of vanity or self-praise, if we look carelessly at the way in which he 
has expressed himself; but if any one draws this conclusion, he will 
be mistaken. Antoninus means to commemorate the merits of his 
several teachers, what they taught and what a pupil might learn 
from them. Besides, this book, like the eleven other books, was for 
his own use, and if we may trust the note at the end of the first 
book, it was written during one of M. Antoninus' campaigns against 
the Quadi, at a time when the commemoration of the virtues of his 
illustrious teachers might remind him of their lessons and the prac- 
tical uses which he might derive from them. 

Among his teachers of philosophy was Sextus of Chaeroneia, a 
grandson of Plutarch. What he learned from this excellent man is 
told by himself (i. 9). His favourite teacher was Q. Junius Rusticus 
(i. 7), a philosopher and also a man of practical good sense in public 
affairs. Rusticus was the adviser of Antoninus after he became 
emperor. Young men who are destined for high places are not often 
fortunate in those who are about them, their companions and teach- 
ers; and I do not know any example of a young prince having had an 
education which can be compared with that of M. Antoninus. Such 
a body of teachers distinguished by their acquirements and their 
character will hardly be collected again; and as to the pupil, we have 
not had one like him since. 

Hadrian died in July, \j>. 138, and was succeeded by Antoninus 
Pius. M. Antoninus married Faustina, his cousin, the daughter of 


Pius, probably about a.d. 146, for he had a daughter born in 147. 
He received from his adoptive father the title of Caesar and was 
associated with him in the administration of the state. The father 
and the adopted son lived together in perfect friendship and con- 
fidence. Antoninus was a dutiful son, and the emperor Pius loved 
and esteemed him. 

Antoninus Pius died in March, aj). 161. The Senate, it is said, 
urged M. Antoninus to take the sole administration of the empire, 
but he associated with himself the other adopted son of Pius, L. 
Ceionius Commodus, who is generally called L. Verus. Thus Rome 
for the first time had two emp)erors. Verus was an indolent man 
of pleasure and unworthy of his station. Antoninus however bore 
with him, and it is said that Verus had sense enough to pay to his 
colleague the respect due to his character. A virtuous emperor and 
a loose partner lived together in peace, and their alliance was 
strengthened by Antoninus giving to Verus for wife his daughter 

The reign of Antoninus was first troubled by a Parthian war, in 
which Verus was sent to command, but he did nothing, and the 
success that was obtained by the Romans in Armenia and on the 
Euphrates and Tigris was due to his generals. This Parthian war 
ended in aj), 165. Aurelius and Verus had a triumph (a.d. 166) 
for the victories in the east. A pestilence followed which carried 
off great numbers in Rome and Italy, and spread to the west of 

The north of Italy was also threatened by the rude people beyond 
the Alps from the borders of Gallia to the eastern side of the 
Hadriatic. These barbarians attempted to break into Italy, as the 
Germanic nations had attempted near three hundred years before; 
and the rest of the life of Antoninus with some intervals was 
employed in driving back the invaders. In 169 Verus suddenly died, 
and Antoninus administered the state alone. 

During the German wars Antoninus resided for three years on 
the Danube at Carnuntum. The Marcomanni were driven out of 
Pannonia and almost destroyed in their retreat across the Danube; 
and in a.d. 174 the emperor gained a great victory over the Quadi. 

In AJ). 175 Avidius Cassius, a brave and skilful Roman commander 


who was at the head of the troops in Asia, revoked and declared him- 
self Augustus. But Cassius was assassinated by some of his officers, 
and so the rebellion came to an end. Antoninus showed his human- 
ity by his treatment of the family and the partisans of Cassius, and 
his letter to the senate in which he recommends mercy is extant. 
(Vulcatius, Avidius Cassius, c. 12.) 

Antoninus set out for the east on hearing of Cassius' revolt. 
Though he appears to have returned to Rome in a.d. 174, he went 
back to prosecute the war against the Germans, and it is probable 
that he marched direct to the east from the German war. His wife, 
Faustina, who accompanied him into Asia, died suddenly at the foot 
of the Taurus to the great grief of her husband. Capitolinus, who 
has written the life of Antoninus, and also Dion Cassius accuse the 
empress of «:andalous infidelity to her husband and of abominable 
lewdness. But Capitolinus says that Antoninus either knew it not 
or pretended not to know it. Nothing is so common as such malicious 
reports in all ages, and the history of imperial Rome is full of them. 
Antoninus loved his wife and he says that she was "obedient, affec- 
tionate and simple." The same scandal had been spread about 
Faustina's mother, the wife of Antoninus Pius, and yet he too was 
perfectly satisfied with his wife. Antoninus Pius says after her 
death in a letter to Fronto that he would rather have lived in exile 
with his wife than in his palace at Rome without her. There are 
not many men who would give their wives a better character than 
these two emperors. Capitolinus wrote in the time of Diocletian. 
He may have intended to tell the truth, but he is a poor, feeble 
biographer. Dion Cassius, the most malignant of historians, always 
reports and perhaps he believed any scandal against anybody. 

Antoninus continued his journey to Syria and Egypt, and on his 
return to Italy through Athens he was initiated into the Eleusinian 
mysteries. It was the practice of the emperor to conform to the 
established rites of the age and to perform religious ceremonies with 
due solemnity. We cannot conclude from this that he was a super- 
stitious man, though we might perhaps do so, if his book did not show 
that he was not. But this is only one among many instances that a 
ruler's public acts do not always prove his real opinions. A prudent 
governor will not roughly oppose even the superstitions of his people, 


and though he may wish that they were wiser, he will know that 
he cannot make them so by offending their prejudices. 

Antoninus and his son Commodus entered Rome in triumph, 
perhaps for some German victories, on the 23rd of December, a.d. 
176. In the following year Commodus was associated with his 
father in the empire and took the name of Augustus. This year a.d. 
177 is memorable in ecclesiastical history. Attalus and others were 
put to death at Lyon for their adherence to the Christian religion. 
The evidence of this persecution is a letter preserved by Eusebius 
(E. H. V. i; printed in Routh's "Reliquiae Sacrae," vol. i., with notes). 
The letter is from the Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum in 
GalUa (Vienne and Lyon) to their Christian brethren in Asia and 
Phrygia; and it is preserved perhaps nearly entire. It contains a very 
particular description of the tortures inflicted on the Christians in 
GaUia, and it states that while the persecution was going on, Attalus, 
a Christian and a Roman citizen, was loudly demanded by the popu- 
lace and brought into the amphitheatre, but the governor ordered 
him to be reserved with the rest who were in prison, until he had 
received instructions from the emperor. Many had been tortured 
before the governor thought of applying to Antoninus. The imperial 
rescript, says the letter, was that the Christians should be punished, 
but if they would deny their faith, they must be released. On this the 
work began again. The Christians who were Roman citizens were 
beheaded: the rest were exposed to the wild beasts in the amphi- 
theatre. Some modern writers on ecclesiastical history, when they 
use this letter, say nothing of the wonderful stories of the martyrs' 
sufferings. Sanctus, as the letter says, was burnt with plates of hot 
iron till his body was one sore and had lost all human form, but on 
being put to the rack he recovered his former appearance under the 
torture, which was thus a cure instead of a punishment. He was 
afterwards torn by beasts, and placed on an iron chair and roasted. 
He died at last. 

The letter is one piece of evidence. The writer, whoever he was 
that wrote in the name of the Gallic Christians, is our evidence both 
for the ordinary and the extraordinary circumstances of the story, 
and we cannot accept his evidence for one part and reject the other. 
We often receive small evidence as a proof of a thing which we 


believe to be within the limits of probabiUty or possibility, and we 
reject exactly the same evidence, when the thing to which it refers, 
appears very improbable or impossible. But this is a false method of 
inquiry, though it is followed by some modern writers, who select 
what they like from a story and reject the rest of the evidence; or if 
they do not reject it, they dishonestly suppress it. A man can only 
act consistently by accepting all this letter or rejecting it all, and 
we cannot blame him for either. But he who rejects it may still 
admit that such a letter may be founded on real facts; and he would 
make this admission as the most probable way of accounting for the 
existence of the letter: but if, as he would suppose, the writer has 
stated some things falsely, he cannot tell what part of his story is 
worthy of credit. 

The war on the northern frontier appears to have been uninter- 
rupted during the visit of Antoninus to the East, and on his return 
the emperor again left Rome to oppose the barbarians. The Ger- 
manic people were defeated in a great battle, a.d. 179. During this 
campaign the emperor was seized with some contagious malady, 
of which he died in the camp at Sirmium (Mitrovitz) on the Save 
in Lower Pannonia, but at Vindobona (Vienna) according to other 
authorities, on the 17th March, aj). 180, in the fifty-ninth year of his 
age. His son Commodus was with him. The body or the ashes 
probably of the emperor were carried to Rome, and he received the 
honour of deification. Those who could afford it had his statue 
or bust, and when Capitolinus wrote, many people still had statues 
of Antoninus among the Dei Penates or household deities. He was 
in a manner made a saint. Commodus erected to the memory of 
his father the Antonine column which is now in the Piazza Colonna 
at Rome. The bas reliefs which are placed in a spiral Hne round the 
shaft commemorate the victories of Antoninus over the Marcomanni 
and the Quadi, and the miraculous shower of rain which refreshed 
the Roman soldiers and discomfited their enemies. The statue of 
Antoninus was placed on the capital of the column, but it was 
removed at some time unknown, and a bronze statue of St. Paul was 
put in the place by Pope Sixtus the fifth. 

The historical evidence for the times of Antoninus is very defec- 
tive, and some of that which remains is not credible. The most 


curious is the story about the miracle which happened in ajj. 174 
during the war with the Quadi. The Roman army was in danger 
of perishing by thirst, but a sudden storm drenched them with 
rain, while it discharged fire and hail on their enemies, and the 
Romans gained a great victory. All the authorities which speak of 
the battle speak also of the miracle. The Gentile writers assign it 
to their gods, and the Christians to the intercession of the Christian 
legion in the emperor's army. To confirm the Christian statement 
it is added that the emperor gave the title of Thundering to this 
legion; but Dacier and others who maintain the Christian report 
of the miracle, admit that this title of Thundering or Lightning 
was not given to this legion because the Quadi were struck with 
lightning, but because there was a figure of lightning on their 
shields, and that this title of the legion existed in the time of 

Scaliger also had observed that the legion was called Thundering 
( KtpawofiSXos, or Ktpawo^pos) before the reign of Antoninus. We 
learn this from Dion Cassius (Lib. 55, c. 23, and the note of 
Reimarus), who enumerates all the legions of Augustus' time. The 
name Thundering or Lightning also occurs on an inscription of the 
reign of Trajan, which was found at Trieste. Eusebius (v. 5), when 
he relates the miracle, quotes Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis, as 
authority for this name being given to the legion Melitene by the 
emperor in consequence of the success which he obtained through 
their prayers; from which we may estimate the value of Apolinarius' 
testimony. Eusebius does not say in what book of ApoUnarius the 
statement occurs. Dion says that the Thundering legion was 
stationed in Cappadocia in the time of Augustus. Valesius also 
observes that in the Notitia of the Imperium Romanum there is men- 
tioned under the commander of Armenia the Prxfectura of the 
twelfth legion named "Thundering Melitene"; and this position in 
Armenia will agree with what Dion says of its position in Cappa- 
docia. Accordingly Valesius concludes that Melitene was not the 
name of the legion, but of the town in which it was stationed. Meli- 
tene was also the name of the district in which this town was situated. 
The legions did not, he says, take their name from the place where 
they were on duty, but from the country in which they were raised, 


and therefore what Eusebius says about the MeHtene does not seem 
probable to him. Yet Valesius on the authority of Apolinarius and 
Tertullian believed that the miracle was worked through the prayers 
of the Christian soldiers in the emf)eror's army. Rufinus does not 
give the name of Melitene to this legion, says Valesius, and prob- 
ably he purposely omitted it, because he knew that Melitene was 
the name of a town in Armenia Minor, where the legion was sta- 
tioned in his time. 

The emperor, it is said, made a report of his victory to the Senate, 
which we may believe, for such was the practice; but we do not 
know what he said in his letter, for it is not extant. Dacier assumes 
that the emperor's letter was purposely destroyed by the Senate or 
the enemies of Christianity, that so honourable a testimony to the 
Christians and their religion might not be perpetuated. The critic 
has however not seen that he contradicts himself when he tells us 
the purport of the letter, for he says that it was destroyed, and even 
Eusebius could not find it. But there does exist a letter in Greek 
addressed by Antoninus to the Roman people and the sacred Senate 
after this memorable victory. It is sometimes printed after Justin's 
first Apology, but it is totally unconnected with the apologies. This 
letter is one of the most stupid forgeries of the many which exist, 
and it cannot be possibly founded even on the genuine report of 
Antoninus to the Senate. If it were genuine, it would free the 
emperor from the charge of persecuting men because they were 
Christians, for he says in this false letter that if a man accuse another 
only of being a Christian and the accused confess and there is noth- 
ing else against him, he must be set free; with this monstrous addi- 
tion, made by a man inconceivably ignorant, that the informer must 
be burnt alive. 

During the time of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Antoninus there 
appeared the first Apology of Justinus, and under M. Antoninus the 
Oration of Tatian against the Greeks, which was a fierce attack on 
the established religions; the address of Athenagcras to M. Antoninus 
on behalf of the Christians, and the Apology of Melito, bishop of 
Sardes, also addressed to the emperor, and that of Apolinarius. The 
first Apology of Justinus is addressed to T. Antoninus Pius and his 
two adopted sons M. Antoninus and L. Verus; but we do not know 


whether they read it.' The second Apology of Justinus is intided 
"to the Roman Senate"; but this superscription is from some copy- 
ist. In the first chapter Justinus addresses the Romans. In the 
second chapter he speaks of an affair that had recently happened in 
the time of M. Antoninus and L. Verus, as it seems; and he also 
directly addresses the emperor, saying of a certain woman, "she 
addressed a petition to thee, the emperor, and thou didst grant the 
petition." In other passages the writer addresses the two emperors, 
from which we must conclude that the Apology was directed to 
them. Eusebius (E. H. iv. i8) states that the second Apology was 
addressed to the successor of Antoninus Pius, and he names him 
Antoninus Verus, meaning M. Antoninus. In one passage of this 
second Apology (c. 8), Justinus, or the writer, whoever he may be, 
says that even men who followed the Stoic doctrines, when they 
ordered their Hves according to ethical reason, were hated and mur- 
dered, such as Heraclitus, Musonius in his own times, and others; 
for all those who in any way laboured to live according to reason 
and avoided wickedness were always hated; and this was the effect 
of the work of daemons. 

Justinus himself is said to have been put to death at Rome, because 
he refused to sacrifice to the gods. It cannot have been in the reign 
of Hadrian, as one authority states; nor in the time of Antoninus 
Pius, if the second Apology was written in the time of M. Anto- 
ninus; and there is evidence that this event took place under M. 
Antoninus and L. Verus, when Rusticus was pracfect of the city. 

The persecution in which Polycarp suffered at Smyrna belongs 
to the time of M. Antoninus. The evidence for it is the letter of the 
church of Smyrna to the churches of Philomelium and the other 
Christian churches, and it is preserved by Eusebius (E. H. rv, 15). 
But the critics do not agree about the time of Polycarp's death, 
differing in the two extremes to the amount of twelve years. The 
circumstances of Polycarp's martyrdom were accompanied by mir- 
acles, one of which Eusebius (iv. 15) has omitted, but it appears 
in the oldest Latin version of the letter, which Usher published, 
and it is supposed that this version was made not long after the time 

'Orosius, vii. 14, says that Justinus the philosopher presented to Antoninus Piui 
his work in defence of the Christiaa religion, and made him tnerciful to the 


of Eusebius. The notice at the end of the letter states that it was 
transcribed by Caius from the copy of Irenaeus, the disciple of Poly- 
carp, then transcribed by Socrates at Corinth; "after which I, 
Pionius, again wrote it out from the copy above mentioned, having 
searched it out by the revelation of Polycarp, who directed me to it, 
etc." The story of Polycarp's martyrdom is embellished with mirac- 
ulous circumstances which some modern writers on ecclesiastical 
history take the liberty of omitting.' 

In order to form a proper notion of the condition of the Christians 
under M. Antoninus we must go back to Trajan's time. When the 
younger Pliny was governor of Bithynia, the Christians were numer- 
ous in those parts, and the worshippers of the old religion were fall- 
ing off. The temples were deserted, the festivals neglected, and there 
were no purchasers of victims for sacrifice. Those who were inter- 
ested in the maintenance of the old religion thus found that their 
profits were in danger. Christians of both sexes and of all ages were 
brought before the governor, who did not know what to do with 
them. He could come to no other conclusion than this, that those 
who confessed to be Christians and f)ersevered in their religion ought 
to be punished; if for nothing else, for their invincible obstinacy. 
He found no crimes proved against the Christians, and he could only 
chararterize their religion as a depraved and extravagant supersti- 
tion, which might be stopped, if the people were allowed the oppor- 
tunity of recanting. Pliny wrote this in a letter to Trajan (Plinius, 
Ep. X. 97). He asked for the emperor's directions, because he did 
not know what to do: He remarks that he had never been engaged 
in judicial inquiries about the Christians, and that accordingly he 
did not know what to inquire about or how far to inquire and 
punish. This proves that it was not a new thing to examine into a 
man's profession of Christianity and to punish him for it. Trajan's 
Rescript is extant. He approved of the governor's judgment in the 
matter; but he said that no search must be made after the Christians; 

'Conyers Middleton, "An Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers," etc., p. 126. 
Middleton says that Eusebius omitted to mention the dove, which flew out of 
Polycarp's body, and Dodwell and Archbishop Wake have done the same. Wake 
says, "I am so little a friend to such miracles that I thought it better with Eusebius 
to omit that circumstance than to mention it from Bp. Usher's Manuscript," which 
raanuKfipt, however, says Middleton, he afterwards declares to be so well attested 
that we need not any further assurance of the truth of it. 


if a man was charged with the new religion and convicted, he must 
not be punished if he affirmed that he was not a Christian and con- 
firmed his denial by showing his reverence to the heathen gods. He 
added that no notice must be taken of anonymous informations, for 
such things were of bad example. Trajan was a mild and sensible 
man, and both motives of mercy and policy probably also induced 
him to take as little notice of the Christians as he could; to let them 
live in quiet, if it were possible. Trajan's Rescript is the first legis- 
lative act of the head of the Roman state with reference to Christian- 
ity which is known to us. It does not appear that the Christians 
were further disturbed under his reign. The martyrdom of Ignatius 
by the order of Trajan himself is not universally admitted to be an 
historical fact.* 

In the time of Hadrian it was no longer possible for the Roman 
government to overlook the great increase of the Christians and the 
hostility of the common sort to them. If the governors in the prov- 
inces were willing to let them alone, they could not resist the fanati- 
cism of the heathen community, who looked on the Christians as 
atheists. The Jews, too, who were settled all over the Roman 
Empire, were as hostile to the Christians as the Gentiles were.* With 
the time of Hadrian begin the Christian Apologies, which show 
plainly what the popular feeling towards the Christians then was. 
A rescript of Hadrian to Minucius Fundanus, the Proconsul of Asia, 
which stands at the end of Justin's first Apology,* instructs the 
governor that innocent people must not be troubled and false accus- 
ers must not be allowed to extort money from them; the charges 
against the Christians must be made in due form, and no attention 

* The Martyrium Ignatii, first published in Latin by Archbishop Usher, is the chief 
evidence for the circumstances of Ignatius' death. 

' We have the evidence of Justinus (ad Diognetum, c. 5) to this effect: "the 
Christians are atucked by the Jews as if they were men of a different race, and are 
persecuted by the Greeks; and those who hate them cannot give the reason of their 

' And in Eusebius, E. H. iv. 8, 9. Orosius (vii. 13) says that Hadrian sent this 
rescript to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, after being instructed in books 
written on the Christian religion by Quadratus, a disciple of the Aposdes, and 
Aristides, an Athenian, an honest and wise man, and Serenus Granius. In the Greek 
text of Hadrian's Rescript there is mentioned Serenius Granianus, the predecessor of 
Minucius Fundanus in the government of Asia. 

This rescript of Hadrian has clearly been added to the Apology by tome editor. 
The Apology ends with the words: S ^Aov ry 8ta, toCto ytviaBu. 


must be paid to popular clamours; when Christians were regularly 
prosecuted and convicted of illegal acts, they must be punished 
according to their deserts; and false accusers also must be punished. 
Antoninus Pius is said to have published Rescripts to the same effect. 
The terms of Hadrian's Rescript seem very favourable to the Chris- 
tians; but if we understand it in this sense, that they were only to be 
punished like other people for illegal acts, it would have had no 
meaning, for that could have been done without asking the 
emperor's advice. The real purpose of the Rescript is that Chris- 
tians must be punished if they {persisted in their belief, and would 
not prove their renunciation of it by acknowledging the heathen 
religion. This was Trajan's rule, and we have no reason for suppos- 
ing that Hadrian granted more to the Christians than Trajan did. 
There is also printed at the end of Justin's first Apology a Rescript 
of Antoninus Pius to the Commune of Asia (r6 Koivhv t^s 'Aaiaj) ^ 
and it is also in Eusebius (E. H. iv, 13). The date of the Rescript is 
the third consulship of Antoninus Pius. The Rescript declares that 
the Christians, for they are meant, though the name Christians does 
not occur in the Rescript, were not to be disturbed unless they were 
attempting something against the Roman rule, and no man was to 
be punished simply for being a Christian. But this Rescript is 
spurious. Any man moderately acquainted with Roman history will 
see by the style and tenor that it is a clumsy forgery. 

In the time of M. Antoninus the opposition between the old and 
the new belief was still stronger, and the adherents of the heathen 
religion urged those in authority to a more regular resistance to 
the invasions of the Christian faith. Melito in his apology to M. 
Antoninus represents the Christians of Asia as persecuted under 
new imperial orders. Shameless informers, he says, men who were 
greedy after the property of others, used these orders as a means of 
robbing those who were doing no harm. He doubts if a just emperor 
could have ordered anything so unjust; and if the last order was 
really not from the emperor, the Christians entreat him not to give 
them up to their enemies. We conclude from this that there were at 
least imperial Rescripts or Constitutions of M. Antoninus, which 
were made the foundation of these persecutions. The fact of being 
a Christian was now a crime and punished, unless the accused denied 


their religion. Then come the persecutions at Smyrna, which some 
modern critics place in a.d. 167, ten years before the persecution of 
Lyon. The governors of the provinces under M. Antoninus might 
have found enough even in Trajan's Rescript to warrant them in 
punishing Christians, and the fanaticism of the people would drive 
them to persecution, even if they were unwilling. But besides the 
fact of the Christians rejecting all the heathen ceremonies, we must 
not forget that they plainly maintained that all the heathen religions 
were false. The Christians thus declared war against the heathen 
rites, and it is hardly necessary to observe that this was a declaration 
of hostility against the Roman government, which tolerated all the 
various forms of superstition that existed in the empire, and could 
not consistently tolerate another religion, which declared that all 
the rest were false and all the splendid ceremonies of the empire 
only a worship of devils. 

If we had a true ecclesiastical history, we should know how the 
Roman emperors attempted to check the new religion, how they 
enforced their principle of finally punishing Christians, simply as 
Christians, which Justin in his Apology affirms that they did, and I 
have no doubt that he tells the truth; how far popular clamour and 
riots went in this matter, and how far many fanatical and ignorant 
Christians, for there were many such, contributed to excite the 
fanaticism on the other side and to embitter the quarrel between the 
Roman government and the new reUgion. Our extant ecclesiastical 
histories are manifestly falsified, and what truth they contain is 
grossly exaggerated; but the fact is certain that in the time of M. 
Antoninus the heathen populations were in open hostility to the 
Christians, and that under Antoninus* rule men were put to death 
because they were Christians. Eusebius in the preface to his fifth 
book remarks that in the seventeenth year of Antoninus' reign, in 
some parts of the world the persecution of the Christians became 
more violent and that it proceeded from the populace in the cities; 
and he adds in his usual style of exaggeration, that we may infer 
from what took place in a single nation that myriads of martyrs were 
made in the habitable earth. The nation which he alludes to is 
Gallia; and he then proceeds to give the letter of the churches of 
Vienna and Lugdunum. It is probable that he has assigned the true 


cause of the persecutions, the fanaticism of the populace, and that 
both governors and empwror had a great deal of trouble with these 
disturbances. How far Marcus was cognizant of these cruel pro- 
ceedings we do not know, for the historical records of his reign are 
very defective. He did not make the rule against the Christians, for 
Trajan did that; and if we admit that he would have been wiUing 
to let the Christians alone, we cannot affirm that it was in his power, 
for it would be a great mistake to suppose that Antoninus had the 
unlimited authority, which some modern sovereigns have had. His 
power was limited by certain constitutional forms, by the senate, and 
by the precedents of his predecessors. We cannot admit that such 
a man was an active persecutor, for there is no evidence that he was,' 
though it is certain that he had no good opinion of the Christians, 
as appears from his own words. But he knew nothing of them 
except their hostility to the Roman religion, and he probably thought 
that they were dangerous to the state, notwithstanding the pro- 
fessions false or true of some of the Apologists. So much I have 
said, because it would be unfair not to state all that can be urged 
against a man whom his contempxiraries and subsequent ages ven- 
erated as a model of virtue and benevolence. If I admitted the 
genuineness of some documents, he would be altogether clear from 
the charge of even allowing any p>ersecutions; but as I seek the truth 
and am sure that they are false, I leave him to bear whatever blame is 
his due.' I add that it is quite certain that Antoninus did not derive 
any of his Ethical principles from a religion of which he knew 

There is no doubt that the Emperor's "Reflections," or his "Medi- 
tations," as they are generally named, is a genuine work. In the first 
book he speaks of himself, his family, and his teachers; and in other 
books he mentions himself. Suidas (v. MApxos) notices a work of 

'Except that of Orosius (vii. 15), who says that during the Parthian war there 
were grievous persecutions of the Christians in Asia and Gallia under the orders of 
Marcus (prxccpto ejus), and "many were crowned with the martyrdom of saints." 

• Dr. F. C. liaur, in his work entitled "Das Christenthum und die Christliche Kirche 
der drei erstcn Jahrhundertc," etc., has examined this question with great good sense 
and fairness, and I believe he has stated the truth as near as our authorities enable 
us to reach it. 

•In the Digest, 48, 19, 30, there is the following excerpt from Modestinus: "Si 
quis aliquid fcccrit, (juo Icvcs hominum animi suiierstitione numinis terrerentur, divus 
Marcus hujuunodi homines in insulam relegari rescripsit." 


Antoninus in twelve books, which he names the "conduct of his 
own life"; and he cites the book under several words in his Dic- 
tionary, giving the emperor's name, but not the title of the work. 
There are also passages cited by Suidas from Antoninus without 
mention of the emperor's name. The true title of the work is 
unknown. Xylander, who published the first edition of this book 
(Zurich, 1558, 8vo.) with a Latin version, used a manuscript, which 
contained the twelve books, but it is not known where the manu- 
script is now. The only other complete manuscript which is known 
to exist is in the Vatican library, but it has no title and no inscriptions 
of the several books: the eleventh only has the inscription M&pkov aO- 
TOKpkTopoi marked with an asterisk. The other Vatican manuscripts 
and the three Florentine contain only excerpts from the emperor's 
book. All the titles of the excerpts nearly agree with that which 
Xylander prefixed to his edition, Mopxou ' kvroivlvov AvroKp&Topoi twv 
fit iaurdv fiifiXia i/3. This title has been used by all subsequent 
editors. We cannot tell whether Antoninus divided his work into 
books or somebody else did it. If the inscriptions at the end of the 
first and second books are genuine, he may have made the division 

It is plain that the emperor wrote down his thoughts or reflections 
as the occasions arose; and since they were intended for his own use, 
it is no improbable conjecture that he left a complete copy behind 
him written with his own hand; for it is not likely that so diligent a 
man would use the labour of a transcriber for such a purpose, and 
expxjse his most secret thoughts to any other eye. He may have also 
intended the book for his son Commodus, who however had no 
taste for his father's philosophy. Some careful hand preserved the 
precious volume; and a work by Antoninus is mentioned by other 
late writers besides Suidas. 

Many critics have laboured on the text of Antoninus. The most 
complete edition is that by Thomas Gataker, 1652, 4to. The second 
edition of Gataker was superintended by George Stanhope, 1697, 
4to. There is also an edition of 1704. Gataker made and suggested 
many good corrections, and he also made a new Latin version, which 
is not a very good specimen of Latin, but it generally expresses the 
sense of the original and often better than some of the more recent 


translations. He added in the margin opposite to each paragraph 
references to the other parallel passages; and he wrote a commentary, 
one of the most complete that has been written on any ancient author. 
This commentary contains the editor's exposition of the more diffi- 
cult passages, and quotations from all the Greek and Roman writers 
for the illustration of the text. It is a wonderful monument of learn- 
ing and labour, and certainly no Englishman has yet done any- 
thing like it. At the end of his preface the editor says that he wrote 
it at Rotherhithe near London in a severe winter, when he was in 
the seventy-eighth year of his age, 1651, a time when Milton, Selden, 
and other great men of the Commonwealth time were living; and 
the great French scholar Saumaise (Salmasius), with whom Gataker 
corresponded and received help from him for his edition of Anto- 
ninus. The Greek text has also been edited by J. M. Schultz, Leip- 
zig, 1802, 8vo.; and by the learned Greek Adamantinus Coral's, Paris, 
1816, 8vo. The text of Schultz was republished by Tauchnitz, 1821. 

There are English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish transla- 
tions of M. Antoninus, and there may be others. I have not seen all 
the Enghsh translations. There is one by Jeremy Collier, 1702, 8vo., 
a most coarse and vulgar copy of the original. The latest French 
translation by Alexis Pierron in the collection of Charp)entier is 
better than Dacier's, which has been honoured with an Italian version 
(Udine, 1772). There is an Italian version (1675) which I have not 
seen. It is by a cardinal. "A man illustrious in the church, the 
Cardinal Francis Barberini the elder, nephew of Pope Urban VIII^ 
occupied the last years of his life in translating into his native 
language the thoughts of the Roman emperor, in order to diffuse 
among the faithful the fertilizing and vivifying seeds. He dedicated 
this translation to his soul, to make it, as he says in his energetic 
style, redder than his purple at the sight of the virtues of this Gentile" 
(Pierron, Preface). 

I have made this translation at intervals after having used the 
book for many years. It is made from the Greek, but I have not 
always followed one text; and I have occasionally compared other 
versions with my own. I made this translation for my own use, 
because I found that it was worth the labour; but it may be useful 
to others also and therefore I determined to print it. As the original 


is sometimes very difficult to understand and still more difficult to 
translate, it is not possible that I have always avoided error. But I 
believe that I have not often missed the meaning, and those who will 
take the trouble to compare the translation with the original should 
not hastily conclude that I am wrong, if they do not agree with me. 
Some passages do give the meaning, though at first sight they may 
not appear to do so; and when I differ from the translators, I think 
that in some places they are wrong, and in other places I am sure that 
they are. ... I could have made the language more easy and flow- 
ing, but I have preferred a ruder style as being better suited to express 
the character of the original; and sometimes the obscurity which may 
appear in the version is a fair copy of the obscurity of the Greek. 
If I have not given the best words for the Greek, I have done the best 
that I could; and in the text I have always given the same translation 
of the same word. 

The last reflection of the Stoic philosophy that I have observed 
is in Simplicius' "Commentary on the Enchiridion of Epictetus." 
SimpHcius was not a Christian, and such a man was not likely to be 
converted at a time when Christianity was grossly corrupted. But 
he was a really religious man, and he concludes his commentary with 
a prayer to the Deity which no Christian could improve. From the 
time of Zeno to Simplicius, a period of about nine hundred years, 
the Stoic philosophy formed the characters of some of the best and 
greatest men. Finally it became extinct, and we hear no more of 
it till the revival of letters in Italy. Angelo Poliziano met with two 
very inaccurate and incomplete manuscripts of Epictetus' Enchirid- 
ion, which he translated into Latin and dedicated to his great patron 
Lorenzo de' Medici, in whose collection he had found the book. 
Poliziano's version was printed in the first Bale edition of the Enchi- 
ridion, A.D. 1531 (apud And. Cratandrum). Poliziano recommends 
the Enchiridion to Lorenzo as a work well suited to his temper, and 
useful in the difficulties by which he was surrounded. 

Epictetus and Antoninus have had readers ever since they were 
first printed. The little book of Antoninus has been the companion 
of some great men. Machiavelli's "Art of War" and Marcus 
Antoninus were the two books which were used when he was a 
young man by Captain John Smith, and he could not have found 


two writers better fitted to form the character of a soldier and a man. 
Smith is almost unknown and forgotten in England, his native 
country, but not in America, where he saved the young colony of 
Virginia. He was great in his heroic mind and his deeds in arms, 
but greater still in the nobleness of his character. For a man's great- 
ness lies not in wealth and station, as the vulgar believe, nor yet in 
his intellectual capacity, which is often associated with the meanest 
moral character, the most abject servility to those in high places and 
arrogance to the p)oor and lowly; but a man's true greatness lies in 
the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just 
estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examina- 
tion, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, 
without troubling himself, as the emperor says he should not, about 
what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not do that 
which he thinks and says and does. 



IT has been said that the Stoic philosophy first showed its real 
value when it passed from Greece to Rome. The doctrines of 
Zeno and his successors were well suited to the gravity and prac- 
tical good sense of the Romans; and even in the Republican period 
we have an example of a man, M. Cato Uticensis, who lived the life 
of a Stoic and died consistently with the opinions which he professed. 
He was a man, says Cicero, who embraced the Stoic philosophy from 
conviction; not for the purpose of vain discussion, as most did, but 
in order to make his life conformable to the Stoic precepts. In the 
wretched times from the death of Augustus to the murder of 
Domitian, there was nothing but the Stoic philosophy which could 
console and support the followers of the old religion under imperial 
tyranny and amidst universal corruption. There were even then 
noble minds that could dare and endure, sustained by a good con- 
science and an elevated idea of the purposes of man's existence. 
Such were Pactus Thrasea, Helvidius Priscus, Cornutus, C. Musonius 
Rufus,' and the poets Persius and Juvenal, whose energetic language 
and manly thoughts may be as instructive to us now as they might 
have been to their contemporaries. Persius died under Nero's bloody 
reign, but Juvenal had the good fortune to survive the tyrant 
Domitian and to see the better times of Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian.* 
His best precepts are derived from the Stoic school, and they are 

■ I have omitted Seneca, Nero's preceptor. He was in a sense a Stoic and he has 
said many good things in a vcr>' fine way. There is a judgment of Gellius (xii. a) on 
Seneca, or rather a statement of what some people thought of his philosophy, and 
it is not favourable. His writings and his life must be taken together, and I have 
nothing more to say of him here. The reader will find a notice of Seneca and his 
philosophy in "Seekers after God," by the Rev. F. W. Farrar. Macmillan and Co. 

' Ribbeck has laboured to prove that those Satires which contain philosophical pre- 
cepts are not the work of the real, but of a false Juvenal, a Declamator. Still the 
verses exist, and were written by somebody who was acquainted with the Stoic 



enforced in his finest verses by the unrivalled vigour of the Latin 

The two best expounders of the later Stoical philosophy were a 
Greek slave and a Roman emperor. Epictetus, a Phrygian Greek, 
was brought to Rome, we know not how, but he was there the slave 
and afterwards the freedman of an unworthy master, Epaphroditus 
by name, himself a freedman and a favourite of Nero. Epictetus 
may have been a hearer of C. Musonius Rufus, while he was still a 
slave, but he could hardly have been a teacher before he was made 
free. He was one of the philosophers whom Domitian's order ban- 
ished from Rome. He retired to Nicopolis in Epirus, and he may 
have died there. Like other great teachers he wrote nothing, and 
we are indebted to his grateful pupil Arrian for what we have of 
Epictetus' discourses. Arrian wrote eight books of the discourses of 
Epictetus, of which only four remain and some fragments. We have 
also from Arrian's hand the small Enchiridion or Manual of the 
chief precepts of Epictetus. There is a valuable commentary on the 
Enchiridion by Simplicius, who lived in the time of the emperor 

Antoninus in his first book (i. 7), in which he gratefully commem- 
orates his obligations to his teachers, says that he was made 
acquainted by Junius Rusticus with the discourses of Epictetus, 
whom he mentions also in other passages (iv. 41; xi. 34, 36). Indeed 
the doctrines of Epictetus and Antoninus are the same, and Epictetus 
is the best authority for the explanation of the philosophical language 
of Antoninus and the exposition of his opinions. But the method 
of the two philosophers is entirely different. Epictetus addressed 
himself to his hearers in a continuous discourse and in a familiar 
and simple manner. Antoninus wrote down his reflections for his 
own use only, in short unconnected paragraphs, which are often 

The Stoics made three divisions of philosophy. Physic (^i»ffuc6v)j 
Ethic (ri6ui6v), and Logic (Xo7uc6v) (viii. 13). This division, we 
are told by Diogenes, was made by Zeno of Citium, the founder of 
the Stoic sect, and by Chrysippus; but these philosophers placed the 

* There 15 a complete edition of Arrian's Epictetus with the commentaiy of Sim- 
plicius by J. Schweighauser, 6 vols. 8vo. 1799, 1800. 


three divisions in the following order: Logic, Physic, Ediic. It 
appears, however, that this division was made before Zeno's time 
and acknowledged by Plato, as Cicero remarks (Acad. Post. i. 5). 
Logic is not synonymous with our term Logic in the narrower sense 
of that word. 

Cleanthes, a Stoic, subdivided the three divisions, and made six: 
Dialectic and Rhetoric, comprised in Logic; Ethic and Politic; 
Physic and Theology. This division was merely for practical use, 
for all Philosophy is one. Even among the earliest Stoics Logic or 
Dialectic does not occupy the same place as in Plato: it is considered 
only as an instrument which is to be used for the other divisions of 
Philosophy. An exposition of the earlier Stoic doctrines and of their 
modifications would require a volume. My object is to explain only 
the opinions of Antoninus, so far as they can be collected from his 

According to the subdivision of Cleanthes Physic and Theology go 
together, or the study of the nature of Things, and the study of the 
nature of the Deity, so far as man can understand the Deity, and of 
his government of the universe. This division or subdivision is not 
formally adopted by Antoninus, for, as already observed, there is no 
method in his book; but it is virtually contained in it. 

Cleanthes also connects Ethic and Politic, or the study of the prin- 
ciples of morals and the study of the constitution of civil society; 
and undoubtedly he did well in subdividing Ethic into two parts, 
Ethic in the narrower sense and Politic, for though the two are 
intimately connected, they are also very distinct, and many questions 
can only be properly discussed by carefully observing the distinction. 
Antoninus does not treat of Politic. His subject is Ethic, and Ethic 
in its practical application to his own conduct in life as a man and 
as a governor. His Ethic is founded on his doctrines about man's 
nature, the Universal Nature, and the relation of every man to every- 
thing else. It is therefore intimately and inseparably connected with 
Physic or the Nature of Things and with Theology or the Nature of 
the Deity. He advises us to examine well all the impressions on our 
minds (vaj'Taaicu) and to form a right judgment of them, to make 
just conclusions, and to inquire into the meanings of words, and so 
far to apply Dialectic, but he has no attempt at any exposition of 


Dialectic, and his philosophy is in substance purely moral and prac- 
tical. He says (viii. 13), "Constantly and, if it be possible, on the 
occasion of every impression on the soul, apply to it the principles 
of Physic, of Ethic, and of Dialectic": which is only another way of 
telling us to examine the impression in every possible way. In another 
passage (iii. 11) he says, "To the aids which have been mentioned 
let this one still be added : make for thyself a definition or descrip- 
tion of the object [T6<pai'TaaT6v^ which is presented to thee, so as to 
see distinctly what kind of a thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, 
in its complete entirety, and tell thyself its proper name, and the 
names of the things of which it has been compounded, and into 
which it will be resolved." Such an examination implies a use of 
Dialectic, which Antoninus accordingly employed as a means 
towards establishing his Physical, Theological, and Ethical principles. 
There are several expositions of the Physical, Theological, and 
Ethical principles, which are contained in the work of Antoninus; 
and more expositions than I have read. Ritter ("Geschichte der 
Philosophic," iv. 241), after explaining the doctrines of Epictetus, 
treats very briefly and insufficiently those of Antoninus. But he 
refers to a short essay, in which the work is done better.* There is 
also an essay on the Philosophical Principles of M. Aurelius 
Antoninus by J. M. Schultz, placed at the end of his German trans- 
lation of Antoninus (Schleswig, 1799). With the assistance of these 
two useful essays and his own diligent study a man may form a 
sufficient notion of the principles of Antoninus; but he will find it 
more difficult to expound them to others. Besides the want of ar- 
rangement in the original and of connection among the numerous 
paragraphs, the corruption of the text, the obscurity of the language 
and the style, and sometimes perhaps the confusion in the writer's 
own ideas — besides all this there is occasionally an apparent contra- 
diction in the emperor's thoughts, as if his principles were some- 
times unsettled, as if doubt sometimes clouded his mind. A man who 
leads a life of tranquillity and reflection, who is not disturbed at 
home and meddles not with the affairs of the world, may keep his 
mind at ease and his thoughts in one even course. But such a man 

* "De Marco Aurelio Antonino ... ex ipsius Commentariis. Scriptio Philologica." 
Imtituit Nicolaus Bachius, Lipsia:, 1826. 


has not been tried. All his Ethical philosophy and his passive virtue 
might turn out to be idle words, if he were once exposed to the rude 
realities of human existence. Fine thoughts and moral dissertations 
from men who have not worked and suffered may be read, but they 
will be forgotten. No religion, no Ethical philosophy is worth any- 
thing, if the teacher has not lived the "life of an apostle," and been 
ready to die "the death of a martyr." "Not in passivity [the passive 
affects], but in activity, lie the evil and the good of the rational social 
animal, just as his virtue and his vice lie not in passivity, but in activ- 
ity" (ix. 16). The emperor Antoninus was a practical moralist. From 
his youth he followed a laborious discipline, and though his high 
station placed him above all want or the fear of it, he lived as fru- 
gally and temperately as the poorest philosopher. Epictetus wanted 
little, and it seems that he always had the little that he wanted, and he 
was content with it, as he had been with his servile station. But 
Antoninus after his accession to the empire sat on an uneasy seat. 
He had the administration of an empire which extended from the 
Euphrates to the Atlantic, from the cold mountains of Scotland to 
the hot sands of Africa; and we may imagine, though we cannot 
know it by experience, what must be the trials, the troubles, the 
anxiety, and the sorrows of him who has the world's business on 
his hands with the wish to do the best that he can, and the certain 
knowledge that he can do very little of the good which he wishes. 

In the midst of war, pestilence, conspiracy, general corruption, and 
with the weight of so unwieldy an empire upon him, we may easily 
comprehend that Antoninus often had need of all his fortitude to 
supfKjrt him. The best and the bravest men have moments of doubt 
and of weakness, but if they are the best and the bravest, they rise 
again from their depression by recurring to first principles, as An- 
toninus does. The emperor says that life is smoke, a vapour, and 
St. James in his Epistle is of the same mind; that the world is full 
of envious, jealous, malignant people, and a man might be well 
content to get out of it. He has doubts p)erhaps sometimes even about 
that to which he holds most firmly. There are only a few passages 
of this kind, but they are evidence of the struggles which even the 
noblest of the sons of men had to maintain against the hard realities 
of his daily life. A poor remark it is which I have seen somewhere. 


and made in a disparaging way, that the emperor's reflections show 
that he had need of consolation and comfort in hfe, and even to 
prepare him to meet his death. True that he did need comfort and 
support, and we see how he found it. He constantly recurs to his fun- 
damental principle that the universe is wisely ordered, that every 
man is a part of it and must conform to that order which he cannot 
change, that whatever the Deity has done is good, that all mankind 
are a man's brethren, that he must love and cherish them and try 
to make them better, even those who would do him harm. This is his 
conclusion (11. 17): "What then is that which is able to conduct a 
man? One thing and only one. Philosophy. But this consists in 
keeping the divinity within a man free from violence and unharmed, 
sufjerior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without a purpose nor 
yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man's 
doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens 
and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from 
whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a 
cheerful mind as being nothing else than a dissolution of the ele- 
ments of which every living being is compounded. But if there is 
no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing 
into another, why should a man have any apprehension about the 
change and dissolution of all the elements [himself] ? for it is accord- 
ing to nature; and nothing is evil that is according to nature." 

The Physic of Antoninus is the knowledge of the Nature of the 
Universe, of its government, and of the relation of man's nature to 
both. He names the universe (1) twv 6\wi' ova'ia, vi. i) "the universal 
substance," and he adds that "reason" (X670J) governs the universe. 
He also (vi. 9) uses the terms "universal nature" or "nature of the 
universe." He (vi. 25) calls the universe "the one and all, which we 
name Cosmus or Order" (k6<7/xos) . If he ever seems to use these gen- 
eral terms as significant of the All, of all that man can in any way 
conceive to exist, he still on other occasions plainly distinguishes 
between Matter, Material things {yM, v\iK6v^^znA Cause, Origin, 
Reason (aWo, alruabti, \6yoi) . This is conformable to Zeno's doc- 
trine that there are two original principles (Apxal) of all things, that 
which acts (tA ttoiovv) and that which is acted upon (t6 waaxov). That 
which is acted on is the formless matter (6X17) : that which acts is the 


reason (X67os),God, who is eternal and operates through all matter, 
and produces all things. So Antoninus (v. 32) speaks of the reason 
( X670S) which pervades all substance (o{xr£o) , and through all time 
by fixed periods (revolutions) administers the universe (^i iroj'). 
God is eternal, and Matter is eternal. It is God who gives form to 
matter, but he is not said to have created matter. According to this 
view, which is as old as Anaxagoras, God and matter exist inde- 
pendently, but God governs matter. This doctrine is simply the 
expression of the fact of the existence both of matter and of God. 
The Stoics did not perplex themselves with the insoluble question 
of the origin and nature of matter. Antoninus also assumes a begin- 
ning of things, as we now know them; but his language is sometimes 
very obscure. I have endeavoured to explain the meaning of one 
difficult passage, (vii. 75, and the note.) 

Matter consists of elemental parts (ffTotx*io) of which all material 
objects are made. But nothing is permanent in form. The nature 
of the universe, according to Antoninus' expression (iv. 36), "loves 
nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new 
things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of 
that which will be. But thou art thinking only of seeds which are cast 
into the earth or into a womb: but this is a very vulgar notion." 
All things then are in a constant flux and change: some things are 
dissolved into the elements, others come in their places; and so the 
"whole universe continues ever young and perfect." (xii. 23.) 

Antoninus has some obscure expressions about what he calls "sem- 
inal principles" (<rir«pMarucoi X6701). He opposes them to the Epi- 
curean atoms (vi. 24), and consequently his "seminal principles" 
are not material atoms which wander about at hazard, and com- 
bine nobody knows how. In one passage (iv. 21) he speaks of living 
principles, souls (^-vxat) after the dissolution of their bodies being 
received into the "seminal principle of the universe." Schultz 
thinks that by "seminal principles Antoninus means the relations of 
the various elemental principles, which relations are determined by 
the Deity and by which alone the production of organized beings is 
possible." This may be the meaning, but if it is, nothing of any value 
can be derived from it. Antoninus often uses the word "Nature" 
( ifivais"), and we must attempt to fix its meaning. The simple ety- 
mological sense of ipdcis is "production," the birth of what we call 


Things. The Romans used Natura, which also means "birth" orig- 
inally. But neither the Greeks nor the Romans stuck to this simple 
meaning, nor do we. Antoninus says (x. 6) : "Whether the universe 
is [a concourse of] atoms, or Nature [is a system], let this first be 
established, that I am a part of the whole which is governed by na- 
ture." Here it might seem as if nature were personified and viewed 
as an active, efficient power, as something which, if not independent 
of the Deity, acts by a power which is given to it by the Deity. Such, 
if I understand the expression right, is the way in which the word 
Nature is often used now, though it is plain that many writers use 
the word without fixing any exact meaning to it. It is the same 
with the expression Laws of Nature, which some writers may use in 
an intelligible sense, but others as clearly use in no definite sense at 
all. There is no meaning in this word Nature, except that which 
Bishop Butler assigns to it, when he says, "The only distinct meaning 
of that word Natural is Stated, Fixed or Settled; since what is nat- 
ural as much requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render 
it so, i.e. to effect it continually or at stated times, as what is super- 
natural or miraculous does to effect it at once." This is Plato's 
meaning ("De Leg.," iv. 715), when he says that God holds the be- 
ginning and end and middle of all that exists, and proceeds straight 
on his course, making his circuit according to nature (that is, by a 
fixed order); and he is continually accompanied by justice, who 
punishes those who deviate from the divine law, that is, from the 
order or course which God observes. 

When we look at the motions of the planets, the action of what 
we call gravitation, the elemental combination of unorganized bodies 
and their resolution, the production of plants and of living bodies, 
their generation, growth, and their dissolution, which we call their 
death, we observe a regular sequence of phenomena, which within 
the limits of experience present and past, so far as we know the past, 
is fixed and invariable. But if this is not so, if the order and sequence 
of pha^nomena, as known to us, are subject to change in the course 
of an infinite progression — and such change is conceivable — we have 
not discovered, nor shall we ever discover, the whole of the order and 
sequence of phacnomena, in which sequence there may be involved 
according to its very nature, that is, according to its fixed order, 
some variation of what we now call the Order or Nature of Things. 


It is also conceivable that such changes have taken place, changes in 
the order of things, as we are compelled by the imperfection of lan- 
guage to call them, but which are no changes; and further it is cer- 
tain that our knowledge of the true sequence of all actual pharnom- 
ena, as, for instance, the phenomena of generation, growth, and dis- 
solution, is and ever must be imperfect. 

We do not fare much better when we speak of Causes and Effects 
than when we speak of Nature. For the practical purposes of life we 
may use the terms cause and effect conveniently, and we may fix a 
distinct meaning to them, distinct enough at least to prevent all 
misunderstanding. But the case is different when we speak of causes 
and effects as of Things. All that we know is phenomena, as the 
Greeks called them, or appearances which follow one another in a 
regular order, as we conceive it, so that if some one pharnomenon 
should fail in the series, we conceive that there must either be an 
interruption of the series, or that something else will appear after 
the phaenomenon which has failed to appear, and will occupy the 
vacant place; and so the series in its progression may be modified 
or totally changed. Cause and effect then mean nothing in the se- 
quence of natural phenomena beyond what I have said; and the 
real cause, or the transcendent cause, as some would call it, of each 
successive phenomenon is in that which is the cause of all things 
which are, which have been, and which will be forever. Thus the 
word Creation may have a real sense if we consider it as the first, if 
we can conceive a first, in the present order of natural phenomena; 
but in the vulgar ^ense a creation of all things at a certain time, fol- 
lowed by a quiescence of the first cause and an abandonment of all 
sequences of phenomena to the laws of Nature, or to the other 
words that people may use, is absolutely absurd.' 

Now, though there is great difficulty in understanding all the 

* Time and space are the conditions of our thought; but time infinite and space 
infinite cannot be objects of thought, except in a very imperfect way. Time and 
space must not in any way be thought of, when we think of the Deity. Swedenborg 
says, 'The natural man may believe that he would have no thought, if the ideas of 
time, of space, and of things material were taken away; for upon those is founded 
all the thought that man has. But let him know that the thoughts are limited and 
confined in proportion as they partake of time, of space, and of what is material; 
and that they are not limited and are extended, in proportion as they do not partake 
of those things; since the mind is so far elevated above the things corporeal and 
worldly." ("Concerning Heaven and Hell," 169.) 


passages of Antoninus, in which he speaks of Nature, of the changes 
of things, and of the economy of the universe, I am convinced that 
his sense of Nature and Natural is the same as that which I have 
stated; and as he was a man who knew how to use words in a clear 
way and with strict consistency, we ought to assume, even if his 
meaning in some passages is doubtful, that his view of Nature was 
in harmony with his fixed belief in the all-pervading, ever present, 
and ever active energy of God. (11. 4; iv. 40; x. i; vi. 40; and other 
passages. Compare Seneca, "De Benef.," iv. 7. Swedenborg, "Angelic 
Wisdom," 349-357.) 

There is much in Antoninus that is hard to understand, and it 
might be said that he did not fully comprehend all that he wrote; 
which would, however, be in no way remarkable, for it happens 
now that a man may write what neither he nor anybody can under- 
stand. Antoninus tells us (xii. 10) to look at things and see what 
they are, resolving them into the material (i5X7j), the causal (airioj'), 
and the relation (Ava^pd), or the purpose, by which he seems to 
mean something in the nature of what we call effect, or end. The 
word Cause (alria) is the difficulty. There is the same word in the 
Sanscrit {hetu)\ and the subtle philosophers of India and of Greece, 
and the less subtle philosophers of modern times, have all used this 
word, or an equivalent word, in a vague way. Yet the confusion 
sometimes may be in the inevitable ambiguity of language rather 
than in the mind of the writer, for I cannot think that some of the 
wisest of men did not know what they intended to say. When An- 
toninus says (iv. 36) that "everything that exists is in a manner the 
seed of that which will be," he might be supposed to say what some 
of the Indian philosophers have said, and thus a profound truth might 
be converted into a gross absurdity. But he says, "in a manner," and 
in a manner he said true; and in another manner, if you mistake his 
meaning, he said false. When Plato said, "Nothing ever is, but is 
always becoming" (4*1 7'7''"'at)jhe delivered a text, out of which we 
may derive something; for he destroys by it not all practical, but 
all speculative notions of cause and effect. The whole series of things., 
as they appear to us, must be contemplated in time, that is, in suc- 
cession, and we conceive or suppose intervals between one state of 
things and another state of things, so that there is priority and se- 


quence, and interval, and Being, and a ceasing to Be, and beginning 
and ending. But there is nothing of the kind in the Nature of Things. 
It is an everlasting continuity, (iv. 45; vii. 75.) When Antoninus 
speaks of generation (x. 26), he speaks of one cause (airU) acting, 
and then another cause taking up the work, which the former left in 
a certain state, and so on; and we might conceive that he had some 
notion like what has been called "the self-evolving power of nature"; 
a fine phrase indeed, the full impwrt of which I believe that the 
writer of it did not see, and thus he laid himself open to the imputa- 
tion of being a follower of one of the Hindu sects, which makes 
all things come by evolution out of nature or matter, or out of some- 
thing which takes the place of Deity, but is not Deity. I would have 
all men think as they please, or as they can, and I only claim the 
same freedom which I give. When a man writes anything, we may 
fairly try to find out all that his words must mean, even if the result 
is that they mean what he did not mean; and if we find this con- 
tradiction, it is not our fault, but his misfortune. Now Antoninus is 
perhaps somewhat in this condition in what he says (x. 26), though 
he speaks at the end of the paragraph of the power which acts, unseen 
by the eyes, but still no less clearly. But whether in this passage (x. 
26) he means that the power is conceived to be in the different suc- 
cessive causes (oirtai), or in something else, nobody can tell. From 
other passages, however, I do collect that his notion of the pharnom- 
ena of the universe is what I have stated. The Deity works unseen, if 
we may use such language, and perhaps I may, as Job did, or he 
who wrote the book of Job. "In him we Uve and move and are," 
said St. Paul to the Athenians, and to show his bearers that this was 
no new doctrine, he quoted the Greek poets. One of these poets was 
the Stoic Cleanthes, whose noble hymn to Zeus or God is an ele- 
vated expression of devotion and philosophy. It deprives Nature of 
her power and puts her under the immediate government of the 

"Thee all this heaven, which whirls around the earth, 
Obeys and willing follows where thou Icadest. — 
Without thee, God, nothing is done on earth, 
Nor in the sethereal realms, nor in the sea. 
Save what the wicked through their folly do." 


Antoninus' conviction o£ the existence of a divine power and 
government was founded on his perception of the order of the uni- 
verse. Like Socrates (Xen., "Mem^" rv. 3, 13, etc.), he says that 
though we cannot see the forms of divine powers we know that they 
exist because we see their works. 

"To those who ask, Where hast thou seen the gods or how dost 
thou comprehend that they exist and so worshipest them? I 
answer, in the first" place, that they may be seen even with the eyes; in 
the second place, neither have I seen my own soul, and yet I honour 
it. Thus then with respect to the gods, from what I constantly expe- 
rience of their power, from this I comprehend that they exist and I 
venerate them." (xii. 28, and the note. Comp. Aristode, "de Mun- 
do," c. 6; Xen., "Mem^" i. 4, 9; Cicero, "Tuscul.," i. 28, 29; St. Paul's 
Epistle to the Romans, i. 19, 20; and Montaigne's "Apology for Rai- 
mond de Sebonde," 11. c. 12.) This is a very old argument which 
has always had great weight with most people, and has appeared 
sufficient. It does not acquire the least additional strength by being 
developed in a learned treatise. It is as intelligible in its simple enun- 
ciation as it can be made. If it is rejected, there is no arguing with 
him who rejects it: and if it is worked out into innumerable partic- 
ulars, the value of the evidence runs the risk of being buried under a 
mass of words. 

Man being conscious that he is a spiritual power or intellectual 
power, or that he has such a power, in whatever way he conceives 
that he has it — for I wish simply to state a fact — from this power 
which he has in himself, he is led, as Antoninus says, to believe that 
there is a greater power, which, as the old Stoics tell us, pervades the 
whole universe as the intellect (ww) pervades man. (Compare Epic- 
tetus' "Discourses," 1. 14; and Voltaire i Mad'. Necker, vol. lxvii. p. 
278, ed. Lequien.) 

God exists then, but what do we know of his nature? Antoninus 
says that the soul of man is an efflux from the divinity. We have 
bodies like animals, but we have reason, inteUigence as the gods. 
Animals have life (^ux^), and what we call instincts or natural 
principles of action: but the rational animal man alone has a rational, 
intelligent soul (^vx4 X07UC17, }>otp6.). Antooiuus insists on this con- 


tinually: God is in man,' and so we must constantly attend to the 
divinity within us, for it is only in this way that we can have any 
knowledge of the nature of God. The human soul is in a sense a 
portion of the divinity; and the soul alone has any communication 
with the Deity, for, as he says (xii. 2) : "With his intellectual part 
alone God touches the intelligence only which has flowed and been 
derived from himself into these bodies." In fact he says that which is 
hidden within a man is Ufe, that is the man himself. All the rest is 
vesture, covering, organs, instrument, which the living man, the 
real man, uses for the purpose of his present existence. The air is 
universally diffused for him who is able to respire, and so for him 
who is willing to partake of it the intelligent power, which holds 
within it all things, is diffused as wide and free as the air, (viii, 54.) 
It is by living a divine life that man approaches to a knowledge of 
the divinity. It is by following the divinity within, Saiiiwv or Otis' as 
Antoninus calls it, that man comes nearest to the Deity, the supreme 
good, for man can never attain to perfect agreement with his inter- 
nal guide (t6 iiytfjLovucdv) /'hive with the gods. And he does live with 
the gods who constantly shows to them that his own soul is satisfied 
with that which is assigned to him, and that it does all the darmon 
(Salfiwv) wishes, which Zeus hath given to every man for his guard- 
ian and guide, a portion of himself. And this daemon is every man's 
understanding and reason." (v. 27). 

There is in man, that is in the reason, the intelligence, a superior 
faculty which if it is exercised rules all the rest. This is the ruling 
faculty (rd fiytiwvixbv) which Cicero ("De Natura Deorum," 11. 11) 
renders by the Latin word Principatus, "to which nothing can or 
ought to be superior." Antoninus often uses this term, and others 
which are equivalent. He names it (vii. 64) "the governing intelli- 
gence." The governing faculty is the master of the soul. (v. 26.) A 
man must reverence only his ruUng faculty and the divinity within 
him. As we must reverence that which is supreme in the universe, 
so we must reverence that which is supreme in ourselves, and this 
is that which is of Uke kind with that which is supreme in the uni- 
verse, (v. 21.) So, as Plotinus says, the soul of man can only know 

'Comp. Ep. to the Corintbiam, i, 3, 17, and James iv. 8, "Draw nigh to God 
and he will draw nigh to you." 


the divine, so far as it knows itself. In one passage (xi. 19) Antoninus 
speaks of a man's condemnation of himself, when the diviner part 
within him has been overpowered and yields to the less honourable 
and to the perishable part, the body, and its gross pleasures. In a 
word, the views of Antoninus on this matter, however his expressions 
may vary, are exactly what Bishop Butler expresses, when he speaks 
of "the natural supremacy of reflection or conscience," of the faculty 
"which surveys, approves or disapproves the several affections of our 
mind and actions of our lives." 

Much matter might be collected from Antoninus on the notion of 
the universe being one animated Being. But all that he says amounts 
to no more, as Schultz remarks, than this: the soul of man is most 
intimately united to his body, and together they make one animal, 
which we call man; so the Deity is most intimately united to the 
world or the material universe, and together they form one whole. 
But Antoninus did not view God and the material universe as the 
same, any more than he viewed the body and soul of man as one. 
Antoninus has no speculations on the absolute nature of the Deity. 
It was not his fashion to waste his time on what man cannot under- 
stand.' He was satisfied that God exists, that he governs all things, 
that man can only have an imperfect knowledge of his nature, and he 
must attain this imperfect knowledge by reverencing the divinity 
which is within him, and keeping it pure. 

From all that has been said it follows that the universe is adminis- 
tered by the Providence of God (rpSvoia), and that all things are 
wisely ordered. There are passages in which Antoninus expresses 
doubts, or states different possible theories of the constitution and 
government of the universe, but he always recurs to his fundamental 
principle, that if we admit the existence of a Deity, we must also 
admit that he orders all things wisely and well. (iv. 27; vi. i; ix. 28; 
xii. 5, and many other passages.) Epictetus says (i. 6) that we can 
discern the providence which rules the world, if we possess two 
things, the power of seeing all that happens with respect to each 
thing, and a grateful disposition. 

But if all things are wisely ordered, how is the world so full of 

' "God whn is infinitely bc\on(l the reach of our narrow capacities." Locke, 
"Essay concerning Human Understanding," 11. chap. 17. 


what we call evil, physical and moral? If instead of saying that 
there is evil in the world, we use the expression which I have used, 
"what we call evil," we have partly anticipated the emperor's answer. 
We see and feel and know imperfectly very few things in the few 
years that we live, and all the knowledge and all the experience of all 
the human race is positive ignorance of the whole, which is infinite. 
Now as our reason teaches us that everything is in some way related 
to and connected with every other thing, all notion of evil as being 
in the universe of things is a contradiction, for if the whole comes 
from and is governed by an intelligent being, it is impossible to con- 
ceive anything in it which tends to the evil or destruction of the 
whole, (viii. 55; X. 6.) Everything is in constant mutation, and yet 
the whole subsists. We might imagine the solar system resolved into 
its elemental parts, and yet the whole would still subsist "ever young 
and perfect." 

All things, all forms, are dissolved and new forms appear. All 
living things undergo the change which we call death. If we call 
death an evil, then all change is an evil. Living beings also suffer 
pain, and man suffers most of all, for he suffers both in and by his 
body, and by his intelligent part. Men suffer also from one another, 
and perhaps the largest part of human suffering comes to man from 
those whom he calls his brothers. Antoninus says (viii. 55), "Gen- 
erally, wickedness does no harm at all to the universe; and particu- 
larly, the wickedness [of one man] does no harm to another. It is 
only harmful to him who has it in his power to be released from 
it as soon as he shall choose." The first part of this is perfectly con- 
sistent with the doctrine that the whole can sustain no evil or harm. 
The second part must be explained by the Stoic principle that there 
is no evil in anything which is not in our power. What wrong we 
suffer from another is his evil, not ours. But this is an admission that 
there is evil in a sort, for he who does wrong does evil, and if others 
can endure the wrong, still there is evil in the wrong-doer. Anto- 
ninus (xi. 18) gives many excellent precepts with respect to wrongs 
and injuries, and his precepts are practical. He teaches us to bear 
what we cannot avoid, and his lessons may be just as useful to him 
who denies the being and the government of God as to him who 
believes in both. There is no direct answer in Antoninus to the objec- 


tions which may be made to the existence and providence of God 
because of the moral disorder and suffering which are in the world, 
except this answer which he makes in reply to the supposition that 
even the best men may be extinguished by death. He says if it is so, 
we may be sure that if it ought to have been otherwise, the gods 
would have ordered it otherwise, (xii. 5.) His conviction of the wis- 
dom which we may observe in the government of the world is too 
strong to be disturbed by any apparent irregularities in the order 
of things. That these disorders exist is a fact, and those who would 
conclude from them against the being and government of God con- 
clude too hastily. We all admit that there is an order in the material 
world, a Nature, in the sense in which that word has been explained, 
a constitution (•rarao-Mu^^^what we call a system, a relation of parts 
to one another and a fitness of the whole for something. So in the 
constitution of plants and of animals there is an order, a fitness for 
some end. Sometimes the order, as we conceive it, is interrupted and 
the end, as we conceive it, is not attained. The seed, the plant, or 
the animal sometimes f>erishes before it has passed through all its 
changes and done all its uses. It is according to Nature, that is, a 
fixed order, for some to perish early and for others to do all their 
uses and leave successors to take their place. So man has a corporeal 
and intellectual and moral constitution fit for certain uses, and on 
the whole man performs these uses, dies, and leaves other men in 
his place. So society exists, and a social state is manifestly the Nat- 
ural State of man, the state for which his Nature fits him; and society 
amidst innumerable irregularities and disorders still subsists; and 
perhaps we may say that the history of the past and our present 
knowledge give us a reasonable hope that its disorders will diminish, 
and that order, its governing principle, may be more firmly estab- 
lished. As order then, a fixed order, we may say, subject to devia- 
tions real or apparent, must be admitted to exist in the whole Nature 
of things, that which we call disorder or evil as it seems to us, does 
not in any way alter the fact of the general constitution of things 
having a Nature or fixed order. Nobody will conclude from the 
existence of disorder that order is not the rule, for the existence of 
order both physical and moral is proved by daily experience and all 
past experience. We cannot conceive how the order of the universe 


is maintained: we cannot even conceive how our own life from 
day to day is continued, nor how we perform the simplest move- 
ments of the body, nor how we grow and think and act, though we 
know many of the conditions which are necessary for all these func- 
tions. Knowing nothing then of the unseen power which acts in 
ourselves except by what is done, we know nothing of the power 
which acts through what we call all time and all space; but seeing 
that there is a Nature or fixed order in all things known to us, it is 
conformable to the nature of our minds to believe that this uni- 
versal Nature has a cause which operates continually, and that we are 
totally unable to speculate on the reason of any of those disorders 
or evils which we f)erceive. This I believe is the answer which may be 
collected from all that Antoninus has said.' 

The origin of evil is an old question. Achilles tells Priam ("Iliad," 
24, 527) that Zeus has two casks, one filled with good things, and the 
other with bad, and that he gives to men out of each according to 
his pleasure; and so we must be content, for we cannot alter the will 
of Zeus. One of the Greek commentators asks how must we recon- 
cile this doctrine with what we find in the first book of the "Odyssey," 
where the king of the gods says. Men say that evil comes to them 
from us, but they bring it on themselves through their own folly. 
The answer is plain enough even to the Greek commentator. The 
poets make both Achilles and Zeus speak appropriately to their sev- 
eral characters. Indeed Zeus says plainly that men do attribute their 
sufferings to the gods, but they do it falsely, for they are the cause of 
their own sorrows. 

Epictetus in his Enchiridion (c. 27) makes short work of the 
question of evil. He says, "As a mark is not set up for the purpose 
of missing it, so neither does the nature of evil exist in the Universe." 
This will appear obscure enough to those who are not acquainted 
with Epictetus, but he always knows what he is talking about. We 
do not set up a mark in order to miss it, though we may miss it. 
God, whose existence Epictetus assumes, has not ordered all things 
so that his purpose shall fail. Whatever there may be of what we call 

'Cleanthes says in his hymn: 

"For all things good and bad to One thou formest. 
So that One cverlastins reason governs all." 
See Bishop Butler's Sermons. Sermon XV, "Upon the Ignorance o£ Man." 


evil, the Nature of evil, as he expresses it, does not exist; that is, evil 
is not a part of the constitution or nature of Things. If there were a 
principle of evil {i-pxv) in the constitution of things, evil would no 
longer be evil, as Simplicius argues, but evil would be good. Sim- 
plicius (c. 34, [27]) has a long and curious discourse on this text of 
Epictetus, and it is amusing and instructive. 

One passage more will conclude this matter. It contains all that the 
emperor could say (11. 11): "To go from among men, if there are 
gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve thee 
in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern 
about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of 
gods or devoid of providence? But in truth they do exist, and they do 
care for human things, and they have put all the means in man's 
power to enable him not to fall into real evils. And as to the rest, if 
there was anything evil, they would have provided for this also, that 
it should be altogether in a man's power not to fall into it. But that 
which does not make a man worse, how can it make a man's life 
worse? But neither through ignorance nor having the knowledge, 
but not the power to guard against or correct these things, is it pos- 
sible that the nature of the Universe has. overlooked them; nor is it 
possible that it has made so great a mistake, either through want of 
power or want of skill, that good and evil should happen indiscrim- 
inately to the good and the bad. But death certainly and life, honour 
and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to 
good and bad men, being things which make us neither better nor 
worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil." 

The Ethical part of Antoninus' Philosophy follows from his gen- 
eral principles. The end of all his philosophy is to live conformably 
to Nature, both a man's own nature and the nature of the Universe. 
Bishop Butler has explained what the Greek philosophers meant 
when they spoke of living according to Nature, and he says that 
when it is explained, as he has explained it and as they understood it, 
it is "a manner of speaking not loose and undeterminate, but clear 
and distinct, strictly just and true." To live according to Nature is 
to live according to a man's whole nature, not according to a part of 
it, and to reverence the divinity within him as the governor of all 
his actions. "To the rational animal the same act is according to 


nature and according to reason."* (vii, 11.) That which is done con- 
trary to reason is also an act contrary to nature, to the whole nature, 
though it is certainly conformable to some part of man's nature, or 
it could not be done. Man is made for action, not for idleness or 
pleasure. As plants and animals do the uses of their nature, so man 
must do his. (v. i.) 

Man must also live conformably to the universal nature, conform- 
ably to the nature of all things of which he is one; and as a citizen 
of a political community he must direct his life and actions with 
reference to those among whom, and for whom, among other pur- 
poses, he lives.'" A man must not retire into solitude and cut him- 
self off from his fellow men. He must be ever active to do his part 
in the great whole. All men are his kin, not only in blood, but still 
more by participating in the same intelligence and by being a 
portion of the same divinity. A man cannot really be injured by 
his brethren, for no act of theirs can make him bad, and he must 
not be angry with them nor hate them: "For we are made for co- 
ofjeration, like feet, like hands, like eyeUds, like the rows of the upper 
and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to 
nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn 
away." (11. i.) 

Further he says: "Take pleasure in one thing and rest in it, in 
passing from one social act to another social act, thinking of God." 
(vi, 7.) Again: "Love mankind. Follow God." (vii. 31.) It is the 
characteristic of the rational soul for a man to love his neighbour, 
(xi. I.) Antoninus teaches in various passages the forgiveness of 
injuries, and we know that he also practised what he taught. Bishop 
Butler remarks that "this divine precept to forgive injuries and to 
love our enemies, though to be met with in Gentile moralists, yet is 
in a peculiar sense a precept of Christianity, as our Saviour has 
insisted more upon it than on any other single virtue." The practice 
of this precept is the most difficult of all virtues. Antoninus often 
enforces it and gives us aid towards following it. When we are 
injured, we feel anger and resentment, and the feeling is natural, 

'This is what Juvenal means when he says (xiv. :;2i): 


just, and useful for the conservation of society. It is useful that 
wrong-doers should feel the natural consequences of their actions, 
among which is the disapprobation of society and the resentment of 
him who is wronged. But revenge, in the proper sense of that word, 
must not be practised. "The best way of avenging thyself," says the 
emperor, "is not to become like the wrong-doer." It is plain by this 
that he does not mean that we should in any case practise revenge; 
but he says to those who talk of revenging wrongs. Be not like him 
who has done the wrong. Socrates in the Crito (c. lo) says the same 
in other words, and St. Paul (Ep. to the Romans, xii. 17). "When 
a man has done thee any wrong, immediately consider with what 
opinion about good or evil he has done wrong. For when thou hast 
seen this, thou wilt pity him and wilt neither wonder nor be angry." 
(vii. 26.) Antoninus would not deny that wrong naturally produces 
the feeling of anger and resentment, for this is implied in the recom- 
mendation to reflect on the nature of the man's mind who has done 
the wrong, and then you will have pity instead of resentment: and 
so it comes to the same as St. Paul's advice to be angry and sin not; 
which, as Butler well explains it, is not a recommendation to be 
angry, which nobody needs, for anger is a natural passion, but it is 
a warning against allowing anger to lead us into sin. In short the 
emperor's doctrine about wrongful acts is this: wrong-doers do not 
know what good and bad are: they offend out of ignorance, and in 
the sense of the Stoics this is true. Though this kind of ignorance 
will never be admitted as a legal excuse, and ought not to be 
admitted as a full excuse in any way by society, there may be grievous 
injuries, such as it is in a man's power to forgive without harm to 
society; and if he forgives because he sees that his enemies know 
not what they do, he is acting in the spirit of the sublime prayer, 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." 

The emperor's moral philosophy was not a feeble, narrow system, 
which teaches a man to look directly to his own happiness, though 
a man's happiness or tranquillity is indirectly promoted by living as 
he ought to do. A man must live conformably to the universal nature, 
which means, as the emperor explains it in many passages, that a 
man's actions must be conformable to his true relations to all other 
human beings, both as a citizen of a political community and as a 


member of the whole human family. This implies, and he often 
expresses it in the most forcible language, that a man's words and 
actions, so far as they affect others, must be measured by a fixed 
rule, which is their consistency with the conservation and the inter- 
ests of the particular society of which he is a member, and of the 
whole human race. To live conformably to such a rule, a man must 
use his rational faculties in order to discern clearly the consequences 
and full effect of all his actions and of the actions of others: he must 
not live a life of contemplation and reflection only, though he must 
often retire within himself to calm and purify his soul by thought, 
but he must mingle in the work of man and be a fellow labourer for 
the general good. 

A man should have an object or purpose in life, that he may 
direct all his energies to it; of course a good object, (ii. 7.) He who 
has not one object or purpose of life, cannot be one and the same all 
through his life. (xi. 21.) Bacon has a remark to the same effect, 
on the best means of "reducing of the mind unto virtue and good 
estate; which is, the electing and propounding unto a man's self 
good and virtuous ends of his life, such as may be in a reasonable 
sort within his compass to attain." He is a happy man who has been 
wise enough to do this when he was young and has had the oppor- 
tunities; but the emperor, seeing well that a man cannot always be 
so wise in his youth, encourages himself to do it when he can, and 
not to let life slip away before he has begun. He who can propose 
to himself good and virtuous ends of life, and be true to them, cannot 
fail to live conformably to his own interest and the universal interest, 
for in the nature of things they are one. If a thing is not good for 
the hive, it is not good for the bee. (vi. 54.) 

One passage may end this matter. "If the gods have determined 
about me and about the things which must happen to me, they have 
determined well, for it is not easy even to imagine a deity without 
forethought; and as to doing me harm, why should they have any 
desire towards that? For what advantage would result to them from 
this or to the whole, which is the special object of their providence? 
But if they have not determined about me individually, they have 
certainly determined about the whole at least; and the things which 
happen by way of sequence in this general arrangement I ought to 


accept with pleasure and to be content with them. But if they deter- 
mine about nothing — which it is wicked to beUeve, or if we do 
believe it, let us neither sacrifice nor pray nor swear by them nor do 
anything else which we do as if the gods were present and lived 
with us — but if however the gods determine about none of the things 
which concern us, I am able to determine about myself, and I can 
inquire about that which is useful; and that is useful to every man 
which is conformable to his own constitution (KaraaKivri) and nature. 
But my nature is rational and social; and my city and country, so 
far as I am Antoninus, is Rome; but so far as I am a man, it is the 
world. The things then which are useful to these cities are alone 
useful to me." (vi. 44.) 

It would be tedious, and it is not necessary, to state the emperor's 
opinions on all the ways in which a man may profitably use his 
understanding towards perfecting himself in practical virtue. The 
passages to this purpose are in all parts of his book, but as they are 
in no order or connection, a man must use the book a long time 
before he will find out all that is in it. A few words may be added 
here. If we analyze all other things, we find how insufficient they 
are for human life, and how truly worthless many of them are. 
Virtue alone is indivisible, one, and perfecdy satisfying. The notion 
of Virtue cannot be considered vague or unsettled, because a man 
may find it difficult to explain the notion fully to himself or to 
expound it to others in such a way as to prevent cavilling. Virtue is 
a whole, and no more consists of parts than man's intelligence does, 
and yet we speak of various intellectual faculties as a convenient 
way of expressing the various powers which man's intellect shows 
by his works. In the same way we may speak of various virtues or 
parts of virtue, in a practical sense, for the purpose of showing what 
particular virtues we ought to practise in order to the exercise of the 
whole of virtue, that is, as much as man's nature is capable of. 

The prime principle in man's constitution is social. The next in 
order is not to yield to the persuasions of the body, when they are not 
conformable to the rational principle, which must govern. The 
third is freedom from error and from deception. "Let then the ruling 
principle holding fast to these things go straight on, and it has what 
is its own." (vii. 55.) The emperor selects justice as the virtue which 


is the basis of all the rest (x. ii), and this had been said long before 
his time. 

It is true that all people have some notion of what is meant by 
justice as a disposition of the mind, and some notion about acting in 
conformity to this disposition; but experience shows that men's 
notions about justice are as confused as their actions are inconsistent 
with the true notion of justice. The emperor's notion of justice is 
clear enough, but not practical enough for all mankind. "Let there 
be freedom from perturbations with respect to the things which 
come from the external cause; and let there be justice in the things 
done by virtue of the internal cause, that is, let there be movement 
and action terminating in this, in social acts, for this is according to 
thy nature." (ix. 31.) In another place (ix. i) he says that "he who 
acts unjustly acts impiously," which follows of course from all that 
he says in various places. He insists on the practice of truth as a 
virtue and as a means to virtue, which no doubt it is: for lying even 
in indifferent things weakens the understanding; and lying mali- 
ciously is as great a moral offence as a man can be guilty of, viewed 
both as showing an habitual disposition, and viewed with respect 
to consequences. He couples the notion of justice with action. A 
man must not pride himself on having some fine notion of justice 
in his head, but he must exhibit his justice in act, like St. James's 
notion of faith. But this is enough. 

The Stoics, and Antoninus among them, call some things beauti- 
ful (''aXd) and some ugly (aiffxpa), and as they are beautiful so they 
are good, and as they are ugly so they are evil or bad. (n. i.) All 
these things good and evil are in our power absolutely, some of the 
stricter Stoics would say; in a manner only, as those who would not 
depart altogether from common sense would say; practically they 
are to a great degree in the power of some persons and in some cir- 
cumstances, but in a small degree only in other persons and in other 
circumstances. The Stoics maintain man's free will as to the things 
which are in his power; for as to the things which are out of his 
power, free will terminating in action is of course excluded by the 
very terms of the expression. I hardly know if we can discover 
exactly Antoninus' notion of the free will of man, nor is the question 
worth the inquiry. What he does mean and does say is intelligible. 


All the things which are not in our power (d^rpoalptra) are indiffer- 
ent: they are neither good nor bad, morally. Such are life, health, 
wealth, power, disease, poverty, and death. Life and death are all 
men's portion. Health, wealth, power, disease, and poverty happen 
to men indifferently to the good and to the bad; to those who live 
according to nature and to those who do not. "Life," says the 
emperor, "is a warfare and a stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is 
oblivion." (11. 17.) After speaking of those men who have disturbed 
the world and then died, and of the death of philosophers such as 
Heraclitus and Democritus, who was destroyed by lice, and of 
Socrates, whom other lice (his enemies) destroyed, he says: "What 
means all this? Thou hast embarked, thou hast made the voyage, 
thou art come to shore; get out. If indeed to another life, there is 
no want of gods, not even there. But if to a state without sensation, 
thou wilt cease to be held by pains and pleasures, and to be a slave to 
the vessel which is as much inferior as that which serves it is superior; 
for the one is intelligence and deity; the other is earth and corrujv 
tion." (ill. 3.) It is not death that a man should fear, but he should 
fear never beginning to live according to nature, (xii. i.) Every man 
should live in such a way as to discharge his duty, and to trouble 
himself about nothing else. He should live such a life that he shall 
always be ready for death, and shall depart content when the sum- 
mons comes. For what is death.? "A cessation of the impressions 
through the senses, and of the pulling of the strings which move the 
appetites, and of the discursive movements of the thoughts, and of 
the service to the flesh." (vi. 28.) Death is such as generation is, a 
mystery of nature, (iv. 5.) In another passage, the exact meaning of 
which is perhaps doubtful (ix. 3), he speaks of the child which 
leaves the womb, and so he says the soul at death leaves its envelope. 
As the child is born or comes into life by leaving the womb, so the 
soul may on leaving the body pass into another existence which is 
perfect. I am not sure if this is the emperor's meaning. Butler com- 
pares it with a passage in Strabo (p. 713), about the Brachmans' 
notion of death being the birth into real life and a happy life to those 
who have philosophized; and he thinks that Antoninus may allude 
to this opinion. 
Antoninus' opinion of a future life is nowhere clearly expressed. 


His doctrine of the nature of the soul of necessity implies that it 
does not perish absolutely, for a portion of the divinity cannot perish. 
The opinion is at least as old as the time of Epicharmus and 
Euripides; what comes from earth goes back to earth, and what 
comes from heaven, the divinity, returns to him who gave it. But 
I find nothing clear in Antoninus as to the notion of the man 
existing after death so as to be conscious of his sameness with that 
soul which occupied his vessel of clay. He seems to be perplexed 
on this matter, and finally to have rested in this, that God or the gods 
will do whatever is best and consistent with the university of things. 

Nor I think does he sp)eak conclusively on another Stoic doctrine, 
which some Stoics practised, the anticipating the regular course of 
nature by a man's own act. The reader will find some passages in 
which this is touched on, and he may make of them what he can. 
But there are passages in which the emperor encourages himself to 
wait for the end patiently and with tranquillity; and certainly it is 
consistent with all his best teaching that a man should bear all that 
falls to his lot and do useful acts as long as he lives. He should not 
therefore abridge the time of his usefulness by his own act. Whether 
he contemplates any possible cases in which a man should die by his 
own hand, I cannot tell, and the matter is not worth a curious 
inquiry, for I believe it would not lead to any certain result as to his 
opinion on this point. I do not think that Antoninus, who never 
mentions Seneca, though he must have known all about him, would 
have agreed with Seneca when he gives as a reason for suicide, that 
the eternal law, whatever he means, has made nothing better for us 
than this, that it has given us only one way of entering into life and 
many ways of going out of it. The ways of going out indeed are 
many, and that is a good reason for a man taking care of himself. 

Happiness was not the direct object of a Stoic's life. There is no 
rule of life contained in the precept that a man should pursue his 
own happiness. Many men think that they are seeking happiness 
when they are only seeking the gratification of some particular 
passion, the strongest that they have. The end of a man is, as already 
explained, to live conformably to nature, and he will thus obtain 
happiness, tranquillity of mind, and contentment, (iii. 12; vni. i, 
and other places.) As a means of Uving conformably to nattu-e he 


must study the four chief virtues, each of which has its proper sphere: 
wisdom, or the knowledge of good and evil; justice, or the giving 
to every man his due; fortitude, or the enduring of labour and pain; 
and temperance, which is moderation in all things. By thus living 
conformably to nature the Stoic obtained all that he wished or 
expected. His reward was in his virtuous life, and he was satisfied 
with that. Some Greek poet long ago wrote: 

For virtue only of all human things 

Takes her reward not from the hands of others. 

Virtue herself rewards the toils of virtue. 

Some of the Stoics indeed expressed themselves in very arrogant, 
absurd terms about the wise man's self-sufficiency: they elevated 
him to the rank of a deity. But these were only talkers and lecturers, 
such as those in all ages who utter fine words, know little of human 
affairs, and care only for notoriety. Epictetus and Antoninus both 
by precept and example laboured to improve themselves and others; 
and if we discover imperfections in their teaching, we must still 
honour these great men who attempted to show that there is in 
man's nature and in the constitution of things sufficient reason for 
living a virtuous life. It is difficult enough to live as we ought to live, 
difficult even for any man to live in such a way as to satisfy himself, 
if he exercises only in a moderate degree the (xjwer of reflecting upon 
and reviewing his own conduct; and if all men cannot be brought to 
the same opinions in morals and religion, it is at least worth while to 
give them good reasons for as much as they can be persuaded to