The Enchiridion is a short manual written by the ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus. Even though it was written almost 19 centuries ago, the wisdom in it is still as relevant today as ever.
I’ve decided to rewrite the Enchiridion into plain English. I don’t speak Ancient Greek, so this isn’t a translation. Instead, it’s a paraphrasing of other I read through both the Elizabeth Carter and George Long translations when writing this document.translations: a necessarily And this is hardly the first stage of interpretation the Enchiridion has been through. First, the other Stoics informed the opinions of Epictitus, who taught a class to Flavius Arranius, who compiled his lecture notes into a summary, which was then translated by one of several translators into English.interpretive process, based on my own experiences and thoughts, and informed by other sources. (Though some parts I like how they are, so they won’t change much.)
The original was written by someone much older and much wiser than me, but I hope that what I lack in sagacity I make up for in being a denizen of the 21st-century: the way I say things — in plain English — might be easier for you to interpret.
So, without further ado...
Some things are in your control (like your thoughts and actions), and some things are not (like your health, property, and reputation).
If you try to control things which aren’t yours to control, you’ll fail, and you’ll be hurt and bitter. But if you only try to control your own thoughts and actions, you’ll be content: If something is in your control, simply exercise that control, and your problem is solved. If your foot hurts because you have a rock in your shoe, you only have to remove the rock to get relief. If something isn’t in your control, negative emotion won’t solve your problem. If your foot hurts because you stubbed your toe, then time, not misery, will relieve your pain. Misery is just more pain.
If you think you have control over something, but upon attempting to exercise that control you fail, then you were wrong after all.
It’s okay to want things like riches, but only so far as it doesn’t impact your ability to think healthy thoughts and take healthy actions. Otherwise, you’re giving up something which makes you happy for something which doesn’t, which is clearly a mistake.
Emotions are not caused by situations directly: they’re caused by our interpretations of situations. If a situation is causing you a negative emotion like anger, realize that it’s not the situation making you angry, but rather your own thoughts about the situation. Most likely, you’re upset by trying to control things which are not yours to control, and if you want to be happy you have to be prepared to let them go.
People are disappointed when they don’t get what they want, and they’re upset when they get what they don’t want. So, to avoid being disappointed or upset, you should only want things which are in your control to obtain, and you should only avoid things which are in your control to avoid. For example, trying to avoid things like poverty, sickness, or death is pointless.
Negative visualization is a mental technique you can perform with anything you value, from your favorite ceramic cup to your own child. All you have to do is remind yourself of the fragile nature of the thing you value. Think of the cup as already broken, or the child as already dead. Then, every minute you get to spend with them will be precious, and when they finally perish, you’ll simply say, “Of course.” Only if you ignore the fragile nature of the things you love will you be shocked when they break.
Whenever you’re going to do something, remind yourself what your goal is. If you go to bathe, remember that your goal isn’t to get clean, it’s to try to get clean while keeping your mind in a healthy state. So, if you run into some trouble while trying to bathe — say, the hot water is broken — then you won’t be frustrated, as you’ve not failed in your goal, since your goal was only to try to bathe while maintaining healthy thoughts.
Negative emotions are not caused by things that happen to us, but by our interpretation of those things as “bad”. For example, you may think of death as bad. But, if death itself is bad, then why is the death of your neighbor’s child so much more disturbing to your neighbor than it is to you? The same event occurred for both of you. The difference is your different interpretations of the event. Since emotions are caused by our own thoughts, it’s irrational to blame someone for your negative emotions. Someone uneducated in the ways of Stoicism is the Ancient Greek philosophy embodied in the Enchiridion (this text).Stoicism will blame others for their own negative emotions. Someone partially educated will blame themselves. Someone who is fully educated will blame nobody, as blame itself is just another negative emotion under the control of the Stoic.
Only be proud of accomplishments which are actually your own. If you have a son and you say, “I have a handsome son,” you’re proud of something which belongs only to your son. Likewise, if you say “I am handsome,” then you’re proud of something which belongs to your genetics (you had no hand in making yourself handsome). It only makes sense to be proud of things which are under your control, that is, your thoughts and actions.
But aren’t your thoughts and actions also the result of your genetics and upbringing? Yes, but this is a level of analysis of free will which isn’t constructive when thinking about how to live your life. Your thoughts and actions may all be the result of a number of things outside your control, but ask yourself, does that mean I shouldn’t be proud of them? What is the nature of pride? Does pride have to be an emotion which only arises when something is 100% under your control (never)? It’s more reasonable to use pride tactically as a reward for good thoughts and actions, and leave the discussion of free will aside. As long as the thing you’re feeling proud of is the result of your thoughts or actions, your pride will never be frustrated by someone else. That is what is meant by control in the Stoic sense: something which someone or something else can’t take away from you.
Imagine you’re on a cruise which has anchored at shore. If you leave the ship, you might have some fun by swimming in the water or building sand castles. However, you should always have one ear bent toward the ship, listening for the captain’s call. When the captain calls all-aboard, you should immediately leave behind the water and the sand, otherwise you risk being separated from your belongings and having to make your way to the next port at your own expense — not a desirable end to a nice day.
So it is with life. If, instead of water and sand you have a career and a child, that is fine. But when the captain calls, you should leave these things behind and return to the ship, otherwise you may bring on a terrible end to your life. And, if you’re old, never stray far from the ship, otherwise you may fail to make it in time.
Don’t want things to happen as you wish, but wish things to happen as they do.
Sickness hurts your body, but not your ability to control your thoughts and actions. Paraplegia impairs the legs, but not your ability to control your thoughts and actions. Poverty lowers your ability to purchase things, but not your ability to control your thoughts and actions. This logic can be applied to most things, which will teach you that most perceived obstacles are obstacles not to you, but to something else.
Some things, like some psychiatric disorders, or even just certain moods, do impede the willpower and so they impede your ability to control your thoughts and actions. In these cases, the size of the steps you can take may be out of your control, but whether or not you take them at all is within your control; And if you keep taking steps, eventually the length of your stride may begin to increase.
When you’re faced with a difficult situation, look for what resources you have inside you to handle it. If you see something or someone you want but shouldn’t have, then you’ll find that self-restraint within yourself. If you’re in pain, you’ll find fortitude. If you hear someone say something you think is stupid, you’ll find patience. If you search for resources within yourself, you’ll usually find something.
Don’t say of anything, “I’ve lost it”, but, “I’ve returned it,” because you were really only ever borrowing it. Is your child dead? They’re returned. Is your spouse dead? They’re returned. Is your house taken away? You mean it’s returned. “But the person who took it away is a bad person.” What difference does it make to you who the universe assigns to take it back? While it’s yours, take care of it, but don’t view it as your own, just like how travellers view a hotel.
Don’t think like this: “If I don’t work, I’ll have no income; If I don’t correct my employee, they will be bad.” Because it’s better to die with hunger, free from grief and fear, than to live rich and miserable. And it’s better that your employee be bad than you be unhappy. And if their disobedience can ruin your day, then who’s the boss and who’s the employee?
Start with the little things. Is a little milk spilled? A little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price I pay for peace of mind. I can’t have peace of mind for free.”
Be okay with being thought of as foolish. Don’t wish to be thought of as knowledgable or important, and be distrustful of praise. Your goal is to maintain healthy thoughts and healthy actions, not to be respected by others; The two are often at odds.
If you wish for your wife and kids to live forever, you’re stupid, because you wish to be in control of things which aren’t yours to control. Likewise, if you wish for your employee to be perfect, you’re stupid. But, if you wish to never be disappointed and get everything you want, this is in your control. All you have to do is desire only those things which are in your control to obtain.
If someone can give to you or take away from you what you want, then they’re your master. If you want to be free, then, wish for nothing which depends on others.
Life is like a dinner party. If something comes around to you, take your share with moderation. If something has not yet come, don’t stretch your desire towards it, but wait until it reaches you. Do this when it comes to romance, children, career, riches, and you’ll eventually be worthy to dine with the Gods. And if you don’t even take the things which are set before you, but you can reject them, then you’ll not only be worthy to dine with the Gods, but share in their divinity, as in the past have ascetics like Diogenes of Sinope, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others.
When you see someone crying because their child has gone abroad, or is dead, or they’ve lost their savings, remember to think, “It’s not the event that makes this person sad, otherwise it would make everyone sad. Instead, it’s their judgement of the event which distresses them.” However, offer them sympathy, not lectures. Just be careful that if you moan with them, you don’t also moan internally.
Imagine you’re an actor in a movie. If the writer has written a long movie, your movie will be long. If they wrote a short movie, then short. If the director says so, you’ll play a poor man, a disabled person, a governor, or a doctor. Whatever your role, see that you act it naturally. Your business is to do a good job acting the role assigned to you; to choose it is another’s.
Don’t worry about bad omens like crossing paths with a black cat or walking under a ladder. Even if they truly do signify bad things to come, those bad things concern only your body, or property, or reputation, or family. They can’t affect the things which are important to your happiness: your thoughts and actions. However things turn out, you are lucky, because you can derive advantage from any situation.
When you see anyone who is rich, famous, or well-liked, don’t assume they must be happy. There are plenty of unhappy rich and famous people, and there are plenty of happy people living in poverty. Happiness comes from within. Given this is true, how can you envy someone else? There’s nothing they have that you need. Don’t wish to be rich, famous, or respected: wish to be free; and the only way to do this is to let go of the things you can’t control.
When someone insults you, it’s the principle “I should not be insulted” which bothers you, not the insult itself. Therefore, when you’re insulted, know that it’s your own principles which bother you. Don’t allow yourself to be hurried away into anger, because if you can distance yourself from the situation for a moment, you’ll more easily remember the true cause of your anger.
On a daily basis, remember death and rejection, and everything else which seems terrible. But most of all, remember death, and you’ll have an easier time avoiding unhealthy thoughts and harmful desires.
If you want to learn If not, then why are you here?Stoicism, prepare to be laughed at and misunderstood. Get ready to hear people criticize you for being smug or overbearing about your philosophy. For your part, don’t be smug or overbearing. But don’t let the fact that Stoicism is unusual to others talk you out of it. If you stick to your principles, eventually those who at first ridiculed you will admire you. But if you give in to their criticism, you’ll receive a double ridicule.
Don’t wish to please anyone, as you shouldn’t desire things which are external to yourself. Also, don’t wish to be seen as wise by others, but wish to be wise.
“I’ll be a nobody. No one will respect me.”
So what? Is an award, a fancy car, or an invitation to a party more important than living a life of virtue? And how can you be a nobody when you’re a somebody when it comes to things in your own control, where you can actually have an effect?
“But I won’t be able to help my friends.”
What do you mean by help? They won’t have any money or gifts from you, true. But what’s more valuable, some money, or a friend of integrity and virtue? A good friend would require that you gain this character rather than require you to do the things which would make you lose it.
“But I won’t be able to help society.”
Again, what do you mean by help? “I won’t be able to build hospital wings and libraries in my name, to improve our society.” Sure, but also a farmer won’t help society by providing it with shoes, nor will a shoemaker help society by providing it with running water. It’s enough that everyone works hard at their own business. And wouldn’t another citizen of integrity and virtue be useful to society? You can aid society however you wish, but if it means you have to sacrifice your integrity and virtue, then you’re depriving society of an honest and good citizen.
Was someone else chosen before you, or did they get a compliment instead of you? If these things are good, then you should be happy for the person; and if they’re evil, then you should be relieved that you avoided them.
And remember that, unless you’re willing to pay the same price as others for these things, you can’t expect to get them. If you don’t flatter a powerful person, how can you expect the same rewards from them as someone who does?
If you’re unwilling to pay the price of things, then you’re greedy. If bread costs a dollar, then you can either have the bread or the dollar. You can either have your cake for later, or you can eat it now. You can’t have both. It’s greedy to say of someone “I wish I had their bread” while you still have your dollar and they don’t. Likewise, it’s greedy to say “I wish I had received the dinner invitation”, when you didn’t pay the price of that invitation: it was sold for praise, and for licking the boot of the host. What do you have instead of the invitation? You have the not praising of someone you don’t like to praise, and the not bearing their behavior.
When a neighbor’s kid breaks a cup, you’re ready to say, “Shit happens.” When your own cup is broken, you should be affected the same way. Apply this logic to greater things. When the child of your neighbor dies, you’re ready to say, “Everybody dies.” But if your own child dies, you say, “How could this happen to me?” Remember the objectivity you feel when accidents happen to others, and apply it when they happen to you.
Just as a target isn’t set up to be missed, the universe isn’t set up to be evil.
If someone gave your body to any stranger they met, you would definitely be angry. So don’t you feel shame in handing over your mind to anyone who happens to insult you? And if you don’t value someone’s opinion, why should you care what they have to say about you?
Don’t begin every pursuit you think of. First, consider fully what’s needed in the undertaking. Otherwise you’ll begin in high spirits, but since you didn’t think things through, when consequences show up you’ll shamefully give up. Like a monkey, you would mimic all you see, but never stick with anything for long.
“I will win in the Olympics.” But consider what’s needed to be an Olympic athlete. You have to listen to the rules, submit to a diet, give up unhealthy snacks, exercise your body, whether you like it or not, in a strict regimen; You can’t drink alcohol or take other recreational drugs. You have to give yourself up to your trainer as you would to a doctor. Then, in practice and in competition, you’ll be thrown into a ditch, dislocate your arm, sprain your ankle, swallow dust, and, after all, lose. When you’ve thought of all this, if you still want to be an Olympian, then go to war.
“I will be a Stoic.” Consider, first, what is needed in that pursuit. Do you think you can act as you do now, and be a Stoic? That you can eat and drink, and be lazy, angry, and discontented as you are now? You have to watch yourself carefully, you have to labor, you have to control your desires, you have to get rid of friends who hold you back, you have to be laughed at by those you meet; come off worse than others in everything, in wealth, in career, in accolades, in fame. When you’ve considered all of this, then decide if you want to be a Stoic.
Consider what is needed in a pursuit before you commit to it. Once you’ve considered it in detail, if you’re ready to commit, then give it your all. If not, then don’t start. Don’t, like a child, be in one moment a philosopher, then a politician, then a wrestler, then a musician, and then an actor, while being nothing with your whole soul. You must be one person, for better or for worse. And, ultimately, you have to decide whether to apply yourself to things within you or external to you; that is, to be either a Stoic, or one of the vulgar.
Duties are universally determined by your relations with others. Is someone your father? If so, you should take care of him and patiently listen to his advice. “But he’s a bad father.” Are you naturally entitled to an amazing father? No, only to a father. Is your brother unjust? Well, don’t just consider what he does, but what you have to do to keep your thoughts and actions in line with what’s in your control and what’s not. Because others can’t hurt you unless you allow it — you’re hurt if you think you’re hurt. But if you don’t allow it, then your brother can’t hurt you, and so he isn’t a bad brother after all. You can find, from the idea of a brother, a neighbor, a citizen, the corresponding duties if you accustom yourself to thinking about relations rather than about the individuals involved.
Don’t curse fate. Act like the universe was made by an intelligent and well-meaning God. If you act this way, you’ll never curse your fate, nor find fault with the nature of the universe.
To act this way, you have to constrain the concepts of good and evil only to things which are in your control. Because if you consider things you can’t control to be good or evil, then when you fail to get what you want you’ll inevitably blame the universe and hate This passage doesn’t require belief in a literal God. It’s just talking about resenting whoever is responsible for your circumstances. In the case of the universe that may be God or fate or logic or nothing at all. Generally, the logic of this passage can be applied to the creator of any situation you find yourself in. If something at work bothers you, you may be tempted to resent your boss.God.
All living creatures are programmed to avoid what is harmful and to pursue what is helpful. Therefore, it’s impossible to be happy about what’s hurting you, just as it’s impossible to be happy about the hurt itself. So, if you feel like you’re being harmed by the universe, you will curse the universe. Because of this, the farmer, the sailer, and the salesperson all curse their fate. But it’s not healthy to live in resentment, so you should yeild to the universe and accept it as perfect — exactly as it should be, neither good nor evil.
Before something happens, you don’t know in advance what the event will be. But you do know the nature of the event, at least if you’re a Stoic. Since the event isn’t in your control, it can neither be good nor evil. Therefore you shouldn’t fantasize about the future, nor should you fear it. It’s not constructive to bring desire or aversion into thoughts about your future. And you can only deal with the future once it becomes the present anyway, so worrying about it now, or looking forward to it now, is a waste of time and energy.
Be the same person, whether you’re alone or with others.
Stay mostly silent; say what’s necessary, and in few words. You can enter into conversation when the occasion calls for it, but avoid vulgar topics like sports, movies, or the news. If you allow yourself to be dragged into a pointless conversation with a vulgar person, you will become vulgar too. Especially don’t talk about people, either to blame them, praise them, or compare them. Don’t speak ill of the living or the dead.
When it comes to food, drink, clothing, house, and family, take what you have use for, but don’t take more than what you need just for show or luxury.
Avoid casual intimacy outside of committed relationships. But don’t criticize those who engage in casual sex, nor boast that you don’t.
If someone criticizes you, don’t make excuses, but answer: “You don’t know my other faults, or else you wouldn’t have only mentioned these ones.”
It isn’t necessary to go to sports, theatres, or other shows often, but if you do, remain yourself rather than a member of the audience. Only wish for whoever is worthy of victory to be the victor. Abstain entirely from shouts, loud laughter, clapping, or violent emotions. And when you leave, don’t talk a lot about what has happened, except what may lead to your own improvement. If you talk too much about it, it’s clear that you admired the show more than you should’ve.
If you’re going to meet with someone, especially an authority figure, expect that they’ll ignore you; that the doors won’t be opened to you; that they’ll take no notice of you. Bear whatever happens, and don’t react negatively if you’re not accepted, because if you do it reveals that you are a vulgar person easily overcome by external things.
Don’t speak about yourself unless you’re asked, and then only enough to complete a response. Nobody else is interested in your adventures; if they were, they would’ve asked. Instead, ask others about themselves, and make your nature known through your conversation about the other person. Likewise, when making jokes, don’t fall into pointless vulgarity. And if someone is pointlessly crude to you, make it clear to them that you don’t approve.
Don’t immediately give in to pleasure. First, consider how enjoyable the pleasure will be. Then, consider how you’ll regret it afterward. Thirdly, consider how happy you’ll be if you resist the temptation and conquer your desires. If, once you’ve considered all three factors, you still want to do the pleasurable thing, then do it. But maintain your composure and don’t let yourself be debased while doing it.
When you’ve decided to do something, don’t be afraid of being seen doing it. If you’re ashamed, don’t do it in the first place. But if you’re not, then why are you afraid of those who fault you wrongly? Likewise, if you’ve decided something is true, don’t be afraid to say it. Either it’s right to say, or it’s wrong to think in the first place.
To take more than your share at a dinner is suitable to your appetite, but utterly unsuitable to the social spirit of the occasion. When you eat with others, remember not only the value of the food to your body and your desires, but also the value of your behaviour toward others at the dinner. And, if a conversation arises, don’t just think about the value of what you have to say, but also the value in letting others speak and letting them not have to hear what you have to say.
If you’ve acted like you’re better than you are, you’ve both failed in this role and neglected the role you should’ve played.
When walking, you’re careful not to step on a nail or sprain your ankle; Likewise, be careful not to hurt your rational mind.
The functions of your body determines what possessions you need for it. If you don’t stop at this, you’ll be carried forward, as if down a cliff. In the case of your shoes, if you go beyond their function to your feet, they will be purple, then gilded, then studded with jewels. Because once you exceed the necessity created by your body, there’s no bound to your excess.
Women are flattered by men for their appearance starting in puberty. Therefore, seeing their appearance as a powerful asset, they begin to decorate themselves to attract the attention of men, and place their hopes in getting a good man. Therefore we should take care to let young women know they’re valued for more than just their appearance, but also their sensibility and decency.
It’s stupid to spend a lot of time on things related to the body, such as exercise, eating, drinking, discharge, and sex. These things should be done incidentally and slightly, and your focus should be on your mind.
Remember that someone who speaks badly of you does it because they think it’s their duty. It’s not possible that they speak what seems right to you, because everyone can only speak what seems right to themselves. Therefore, if someone judges you incorrectly, they’re the person hurt, because they’re the person deceived. Because if you think a true fact is false, the fact isn’t hurt, but you are. Keeping this in mind, you’ll easily bear insults from others, as you’ll simply think, “It seemed so to them.”
Everything has at least two handles, one which can be used to carry it, and the other which can’t. If your brother acts unjustly, don’t hold on by the handle of injustice, because that can’t carry the situation. Carry it by the opposite handle: that he is your brother, and that he was brought up with you; Then you’ll carry it.
These thoughts are unconnected: “I’m richer than you, so I’m better than you;” “I’m more eloquent than you, so I’m better.” The correct connections are these: “I’m richer than you, so my property is greater than yours;” “I’m more eloquent than you, so my style is better than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor style.
Does someone eat a lot of sweet foods? Don’t say that they eat unhealthily, but that they eat a lot of sweet foods. Do they drink a lot of wine? Don’t say that they drink badly, but that they drink a lot. Because unless you perfectly understand the principles guiding someone’s actions, how should you know if they act badly? Therefore, you won’t run the risk of claiming knowledge of things you don’t fully comprehend.
Don’t call yourself a philosopher or a Stoic, nor talk a lot among the unlearned about the principles of Stoicism. At a dinner, don’t talk about how people should eat, but eat as you should. In this way Socrates, for example, avoided ostentation: People would come to him and ask to be taken to a philosopher, and he would take them to a philosopher: so easily he allowed himself to be overlooked. You, too, should allow yourself to be overlooked. If any conversation comes up among uninstructed people about philosophy, generally remain silent, since there’s great danger that you might throw up what you haven’t properly digested. And when others say you know nothing, prove them wrong by not caring what they think and remaining silent. For sheep don’t throw up the grass to show the shephards how much they’ve eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Therefore, unless you’re asked, don’t share principles of Stoicism with the unlearned, but instead share the actions produced by them after they’re digested.
When you supply your body with what it needs inexpensively, don’t be proud. And if you only drink water as a beverage, don’t tell everyone, “I only drink water.” Consider how much more frugal and tolerant of hardship the poor are than you. And, if you want to toughen yourself by exercises in strength and endurance, do it for your own sake, and don’t share it with the world. Don’t Hugging cold statues in freezing weather was a practice advocated by the Cynics, who practiced asceticism. It was viewed by Stoics as unnecessarily showy. One ancient joke says that a Spartan saw Diogenes the Cynic hugging a bronze statue on a cold night. The Spartan asked Diogenes if he was cold. Resolutely, Diogenes said no. “Then how is what you’re doing impressive?”grasp statues, but, when you’re very thirsty, take some cold water into your mouth and spit it out instead of drinking it, and tell nobody.
A vulgar person never expects benefit or hurt from themselves, but from things external to themselves. A Stoic expects all hurt and benefit from themselves. Someone who’s making progress in Stoicism will blame nobody, praise nobody, accuse nobody, and say nothing about themselves as if they were somebody that knew something. If they fail, they blame themselves; If they’re praised, they laugh to themselves at the praiser; If they’re blamed, they make no defense; They move with caution, careful not to move anything that is set right; They suppress all desire, and avoid only those things which are within our control to avoid and which are contrary to a healthy mind; They’re gentle in their actions; They don’t care if they seem stupid or ignorant; Essentially, they watch themselves as they would watch an enemy while lying in ambush.
When someone is proud because they can understand and explain the works of the ancient Stoics, say to yourself, “Unless the Stoics have written obscurely, Note to self: I have done nothing impressive.this person has done nothing impressive. But what do I desire? A healthy mind. And who understands the principles which lead to a healthy mind? For one, the Stoics do. Therefore, I seek to interpret the Stoics. But what if I can’t make sense of their writings on my own? I will seek an interpreter.” When you find someone who will help you to interpret the works of Stoicism, then you have to make use of their instructions — this alone is the valuable thing. If you focus on and value the act of interpretation rather than the act of improving your mind, aren’t you more of a grammarian than a philosopher?
Whatever moral rules you’ve given yourself, abide by them as if they were laws — as if violating them would be a crime. How long will you put off doing this? You’ve learned enough Stoicism to begin. What other instruction are you waiting for? You’re no longer a child, but a grown person. If you’ll be negligent and slothful, like a child, and always add procrastination to procrastination, and put off implementing the ideas you’ve learned, you’ll be one of the vulgar until the day you die. This instant, then, think of yourself as worthy of living as a grown up, and as a Stoic. Let whatever seems best to you be an inviolable law. And when you come across any instance of pain or pleasure, or glory or disgrace, remember that now is the combat, now is the Olympic games, and this cannot be put off. In every defeat you lose progress; In every victory you move toward perfection. You are not yet perfect, but you should live as someone who wishes to become perfect.
The first and most necessary part of philosophy is the lessons, such as, “Do not lie.” The second part of philosophy is the demonstrations, such as, “What is the origin of our obligation not to lie?” The third paLose Sight of the Purpose of Stoicisms, “What is the nature of the demonstration of the origin of our obligation not to lie?” For what is demonstration? What is consequence? Contradiction? Truth? Falsehood? The third topic justifies the second, and the second justifies the first. But the most necessary, and where we should spend the most time, is on the first. Otherwise, we will be immediately prepared to show how it is demonstrated that lying isn’t right, at the same time that we lead a dishonest life.
Hold these maxims ready at hand:
Conduct me, God, and you, Destiny,
Wherever you demand I go,
To follow I am ready.
If I am not,
I make myself miserable,
And still must follow.
Whoever yields to fate is deemed wise among men, and knows the laws of heaven.
If it so pleases the Gods, so let it be: They can kill me, but they cannot harm me.