He ho 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 himself 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 distinguish falsehood from truth. And indeed
he who pursues pleasure as good, and avoids pain as evil, is guilty
of impiety. For of necessity 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 possess 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 injustice, and this is plainly impiety. Now with respect 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
universal nature employs equally, whoever is not equally affected
is manifestly acting impiously. And I say that the universal nature
employs them equally, 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 Providence,
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 such like successions.
It would be a man's happiest lot to depart from mankind without 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 understanding is a pestilence,
much more indeed than any such corruption and change of this atmosphere
which surrounds us. For this corruption 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.
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 grey 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 waitest 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 departure
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 mayest say, Come quick, O death, lest perchance I, too,
should forget myself.
He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts unjustly
acts unjustly to himself, because he makes himself bad.
He often acts unjustly who does not do a certain thing; not only he
who does a certain thing.
Thy present opinion founded on understanding, and thy present conduct
directed to social good, and thy present disposition of contentment
with everything which happens- that is enough.
Wipe out imagination: check desire: extinguish appetite: keep the
ruling faculty in its own power.
Among the animals which have not reason one life is distributed; but
among reasonable animals one intelligent soul is distributed: 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.
All things which participate in anything which is common to them all
move towards that which is of the same kind with themselves. Everything
which is earthy turns towards the earth, everything 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 upwards 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 mingled 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 comparison 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 degree is able to produce a sympathy even
in things which are separated. 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 separated from other men.
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.
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 thee?
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.
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.
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.
Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves, neither knowing
aught of themselves, nor expressing any judgement. What is it, then,
which does judge about them? The ruling faculty.
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
passivity, but in activity.
For the stone which has been thrown up it is no evil to come down,
nor indeed any good to have been carried up.
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
All things are changing: and thou thyself art in continuous mutation
and in a manner in continuous destruction, and the whole universe
It is thy duty to leave another man's wrongful act there where it
Termination of activity, cessation from movement and opinion, 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 manhood, thy old
age, for in these also every change was a death. Is this anything
to fear? Turn thy thoughts now to thy life under thy grandfather,
then to thy life under thy mother, then to thy life under thy father;
and as thou findest many other differences and changes and terminations,
ask thyself, Is this anything to fear? In like manner, then, neither
are the termination and cessation and change of thy whole life a thing
to be afraid of.
Hasten to examine thy own ruling faculty and that of the universe
and that of thy neighbour: thy own that thou mayest make it just:
and that of the universe, that thou mayest remember of what thou art
a part; and that of thy neighbour, that thou mayest know whether he
has acted ignorantly or with knowledge, and that thou mayest also
consider that his ruling faculty is akin to thine.
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 assembly
a man acting by himself stands apart from the general agreement.
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
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.
Thou hast endured infinite troubles through not being contented with
thy ruling faculty, when it does the things which it is constituted
by nature to do. But enough of this.
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.
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.
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
for ever, and these again for ever. 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.
The universal cause is like a winter torrent: it carries everything
along with it. But how worthless are all these poor people who are
engaged in matters political, and, as they suppose, are playing the
philosopher! All drivellers. 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 Philip and Demetrius of Phalerum. They themselves
shall judge whether they discovered what the common nature required,
and trained themselves 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 indolence and pride.
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.
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.
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.
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 old age will be brought into the same condition with him
who died prematurely.
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
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 found in never ceasing evil?
The rottenness of the matter which is the foundation of everything!
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.
Enough of this wretched life and murmuring and apish tricks. Why art
thou disturbed? What is there new in this? What unsettles 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.
If any man has done wrong, the harm is his own. But perhaps he has
not done wrong.
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 ruling 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?
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 anything, 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
like 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
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 participating
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.
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, immediately 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 possible 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 instructed
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 ungrateful, 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 conducive to the
common interest, he has acted conformably to his constitution, and
he gets what is his own.