« AnteriorContinuar »
already able to read Chrysippus by himself. Indeed, sir, you are making great progress. What kind of progress ? But why do you mock the man? Why do you draw him away from the perception of his own misfortunes ? Will you not show him the effect of virtue that he may learn where to look for improvement ? Seek it there, wretch, where your work lies. And where is your work? In desire and in aversion, that you may not be disappointed in your desire, and that you may not fall into that which you would avoid; in your pursuit and avoiding, that you commit no error; in assent and suspension of assent, that you be not deceived. The first things, and the most necessary, are those which I have named. But if with trembling and lamentation you seek not to fall into that which you avoid, tell me how you are improving.
Do you then show me your improvement in these things ? If I were talking to an athlete, I should say, Show me your shoulders; and then he might say, Here are my Halteres. You and your Halteres look to that. I should reply, I wish to see the effect of the Halteres. So when you say: Take the treatise on the active powers, and see how I have studied it, I reply, Slave, I am not inquiring about this, but how you exercise pursuit and avoidance, desire and aversion; how you design and purpose and prepare yourself, whether conformably to nature or not. If conformably, give me evidence of it, and I will say that you are making progress: but if not conformably, be gone, and not only expound your books, but write such books yourself; and what will you gain by it? Do you not know that the whole book costs only five denarii ? Does then the expounder seem to be worth more than five denarii ? Never then look for the matter itself in one place, and progress toward it in another.
Where then is progress ? If any of you, withdrawing himself from externals, turns to his own will to exercise it and to improve it by labor, so as to make it conformable to nature, elevated, free, unrestrained, unimpeded, faithful, modest; and if he has learned that he who desires or avoids the things which are not in his power can neither be faithful nor free, but of necessity he must change with them and be tossed about with them as in a tempest, and of necessity must subject himself to others who have the power to procure or prevent what he desires or would avoid; finally, when he rises in the morning, if he observes and keeps these rules, bathes as a man of fidelity, eats as a modest man; in like manner, if in every matter that occurs he works out his chief principles as the runner does with reference to running, and the trainer of the voice with reference to the voice, this is the man who truly makes progress, and this is the man who has not traveled in vain. But if he has strained his efforts to the practice of reading books, and labors only at this, and has traveled for this, I tell him to return home immediately, and not to neglect his affairs there; for this for which he has traveled is nothing. But the other thing is something, to study how a man can rid his life of lamentation and groaning, and saying, Woe to me, and wretched that I am, and to rid it also of misfortune and disappointment, and to learn what death is, and exile, and prison, and poison, that he may be able to say when he is in fetters: Dear Crito, if it is the will of the gods that it be so, let it be so; and not to say, Wretched am I an old man; have I kept my gray hairs for this ? Who is it that speaks thus? Do you think that I shall name some man of no repute and of low condition? Does not Priam say this? Does not Edipus say this? Nay, all kings say it! For what else is tragedy than the perturbations of men who value externals exhibited in this kind of poetry? But if a man must learn by fiction that no external things which are independent of the will concern us, for my part I should like this fiction, by the aid of which I should live happily and undisturbed. But you must consider for yourselves what you wish.
What then does Chrysippus teach us? The reply is, to know that these things are not false, from which happiness comes and tranquillity arises. Take my books, and you will learn how true and conformable to nature are the things which make me free from perturbations. O great good fortune! O the great benefactor who points out the way! To Triptolemus all men have erected temples and altars, because he gave us food by cultivation; but to him who discovered truth and brought it to light and communicated it to all, not the truth which shows us how to live, but how to live well, who of you for this reason has built an altar, or a temple, or has dedicated a statue, or who worships God for this? Because the gods have given the vine, or wheat, we sacrifice to them: but because they have produced in the human mind that fruit by which they designed to show us the truth which relates to happiness, shall we not thank God for this ?
Lib. I., cap. iv., complete. ON PROVIDENCE
W HEN you make any charge against Providence, consider, and V you will learn that the thing has happened according to
reason. Yes, but the unjust man has the advantage. In what? In money. Yes, for he is superior to you in this, that he flatters, is free from shame, and is watchful. What is the wonder ? But see if he has the advantage over you in being faithful, in being modest: for you will not find it to be so; but wherein you are superior, there you will find that you have the advantage. And I once said to a man who was vexed because Philostorgus was fortunate: Would you choose to lie with Sura? May it never happen, he replied, that this day should come! Why then are you vexed, if he receives something in return for that which he sells; or how can you consider him happy who acquires those things by such means as you abominate; or what wrong does Providence, if he gives the better things to the better men ? Is it not better to be modest than to be rich ? He admitted this. Why are you vexed then, man, when you possess the better thing ? Remember then always and have in readiness the truth, that this is a law of nature, that the superior has an advantage over the inferior in that in which he is superior; and you will never be vexed.
But my wife treats me badly. Well, if any man asks you what this is, say, My wife treats me badly. Is there then nothing more ? Nothing. My father gives me nothing [What is this? My father gives me nothing. Is there nothing else then ? Nothing]: but to say that this is an evil is something which must be added to it externally, and falsely added. For this reason we must not get rid of poverty, but of the opinion about poverty, and then we shall be happy.
Lib. III., cap. xvii., complete.
THAT WE OUGHT NOT TO BE DISTURBED BY ANY NEWS X HEN anything shall be reported to you which is of a nature V to disturb, have this principle in readiness, that the news
is about nothing which is within the power of your will. Can any man report to you that you have formed a bad opinion, or had a bad desire ? By no means. But perhaps he will report that some person is dead. What then is that to you? He may report that some person speaks ill of you. What then is that to you? Or that your father is planning something or other. Against whom? Against your will? How can he ? But is it against your poor body, against your little property? You are quite safe: it is not against you. But the judge declares that you have committed an act of impiety. And did not the judges make the same declaration against Socrates? Does it concern you that the judge has made this declaration ? No. Why, then, do you trouble yourself any longer about it? Your father has a certain duty, and if he shall not fulfill it, he loses the character of a father, of a man of natural affection, of gentleness. Do not wish him to lose anything else on this account. For never does a man do wrong in one thing and suffer in another. On the other side it is your duty to make your defense firmly, modestly, without anger: but if you do not, you also lose the character of a son, of a man of modest behavior, of generous character. Well, then, is the judge free from danger ? No; but he also is in equal danger. Why, then, are you still afraid of his decision? What have you to do with that which is another man's evil ? It is your own evil to make a bad defense; be on your guard against this only. But to be condemned or not to be condemned, as that is the act of another person, so it is the evil of another person. A certain person threatens you. Me? No. He blames you. Let him see how he manages his own affairs. He is going to condemn you unjustly. He is a wretched man.
Lib. III., cap. xviii., complete.
WHAT IS THE CONDITION OF A COMMON KIND OF MAN AND
OF A PHILOSOPHER
THE first difference between a common person and a philosoT pher is this: the common person says, Woe to me for my
little child, for my brother, for my father. The philosopher, if he shall ever be compelled to say, Woe to me, stops and says, « but for myself.” For nothing which is independent of the will can hinder or damage the will, and the will can only hinder or damage itself. If, then, we ourselves incline in this direction, so as, when we are unlucky, to blame ourselves and to remember that nothing else is the cause of perturbation or loss of tranquil. lity except our own opinion, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress. But in the present state of affairs we have gone another way from the beginning. For example, while we were still children, the nurse, if we ever stumbled through want of care, did not chide us, but would beat the stone. But what did the stone do? Ought the stone to have moved on account of your child's folly? Again, if we find nothing to eat on coming out of the bath, the pedagogue never checks our appetite, but he flogs the cook. Man, did we make you the pedagogue of the cook and not of the child ? Correct the child, improve him. In this way even when we are grown up we are like children. For he who is unmusical is a child in music; he who is without letters is a child in learning; he who is untaught is a child in life.
Lib. III., cap. xix., complete.
HOW EVERYTHING MAY BE DONE ACCEPTABLY TO THE GODS
U THEN some one asked, How may a man eat acceptably to the V gods, he answered: If he can eat justly and contentedly,
and with equanimity, and temperately and orderly, will it not be also acceptably to the gods ? But when you have asked for warm water and the slave has not heard, or, if he did hear, has brought only tepid water, or he is not even found to be in the house, then not to be vexed or to burst with passion, is not this acceptable to the gods? How then shall a man endure such persons as this slave? Slave yourself, will you not bear with your own brother, who has Zeus for his progenitor, and is like a son from the same seeds and of the same descent from above ? But if you have been put in any such higher place, will you immediately make yourself a tyrant? Will you not remember who you are, and whom you rule? That they are kinsmen, that they are brethren by nature, that they are the offspring of Zeus ? But I have purchased them, and they have not purchased me. Do you see in what direction you are looking, that it is toward the earth, toward the pit, that it is toward these wretched laws of dead men ? But toward the laws of the gods you are not look
Lib. I., cap. xiii., complete. From