All those things at which thou wishest to arrive by a circuitous
road, thou canst have now, if thou dost not refuse them to 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 some time
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.
God sees the minds (ruling principles) of all men bared of the material
vesture and rind and impurities. For with his intellectual part alone
he touches the intelligence 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 such like externals
The things are three of which thou art composed, a little 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 properly 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 whatever 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 like
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 daemon (to the god that is within thee).
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.
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
convinced that it ought not to have been so:- for thou seest even
of thyself that in this inquiry thou art disputing with the diety;
and we should not thus dispute with the gods, unless they were most
excellent and most just;- but if this is so, they would not have allowed
anything in the ordering of the universe to be neglected unjustly
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.
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.
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 opinion.
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.
See what things are in themselves, dividing them into matter, form
What a power man has to do nothing except what God will approve, and
to accept all that God may give him.
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.
How ridiculous and what a stranger he is who is surprised at anything
which happens in life.
Either there is a fatal necessity and invincible order, or a kind
Providence, or a confusion without a purpose and without a director
(Book IV). If then there is an invincible necessity, why dost thou
resist? But if there is a Providence which allows itself to be propitiated,
make thyself worthy of the help of the divinity. But if there is a
confusion without 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 away.
Does the light of the lamp shine without losing its splendour until
it is extinguished; and shall the truth which is in thee and justice
and temperance be extinguished before thy death?
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 condemned 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
If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do not say it.
For let thy efforts be-
In everything always observe what the thing is which produces for
thee an appearance, and resolve it by dividing it into the formal,
the material, the purpose, and the time within which it must end.
Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something better and more
divine than the things which cause the various affects, 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?
First, do nothing inconsiderately, nor without a purpose. Second,
make thy acts refer to nothing else than to a social end.
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
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.
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 life, if it cease at its proper time, suffers 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 proper 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.
These three principles thou must have in readiness. In the things
which thou doest do nothing either inconsiderately or otherwise 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
things, 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 around in the air and the aether, 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
Cast away opinion: thou art saved. Who then hinders thee from casting
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 everywhere; forgotten this
too, how close is the kinship between a man and the whole human race,
for it is a community, not of a little 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.
Constantly bring to thy recollection those who have complained greatly
about anything, those who have been most conspicuous 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 Catullinus lived in the country, and Lucius Lupus in his
gardens, and Stertinius at Baiae, and Tiberius at Capreae and Velius
Rufus (or Rufus at Velia); and in fine think of the eager pursuit
of anything conjoined with pride; and how worthless everything is
after which men violently strain; and how much more philosophical
it is for a man in the opportunities presented to him to show.