You never have to lose, as long as you stay out of competitions in which you can’t control the outcome. Look out when you see someone who’s doing well in externals (prospering, powerful or just generally well liked), in case you’re fooled by appearances and decide he’s happy.
If the true good pertains only to what we control, there’s no point at all in envy, and you needn’t be desperate to be someone important – you can just want to be a free person. And the only way to do that is to stop trying to control what you can’t control.
You can be invincible if you never enter a contest in which victory is not under your control. Beware lest, when you see some person preferred to you in honour, or possessing great power, or otherwise enjoying high repute, you are ever carried away by the external impression, and deem him happy. For if the true nature of the good is one of the things that are under our control, there is no place for either envy or jealousy; and you yourself will not wish to be a praetor, or a senator, or a consul, but a free man. Now there is but one way that leads to this, and that is to despise the things that are not under our control.
You can be invincible, if you never enter on a contest where victory is not in your power. Beware then that when you see a man raised to honour or great power or high repute you do not let your impression carry you away. For if the reality of good lies in what is in our power, there is no room for envy or jealousy. And you will not wish to be praetor, or prefect or consul, but to be free; and there is but one way to freedom—to despise what is not in our power.
You can be invincible, if you enter into no contest in which it is not in your power to conquer. Take care, then, when you observe a man honored before others or possessed of great power or highly esteemed for any reason, not to suppose him happy, and be not carried away by the appearance. For if the nature of the good is in our power, neither envy nor jealousy will have a place in us. But you yourself will not wish to be a general or senator or consul, but a free man: and there is only one way to this, to despise (care not for) the things which are not in our power.
You may be always victorious if you will never enter into any contest where the issue does not wholly depend upon yourself.
When you see a man honored above others, or mighty in power, or otherwise in high repute, look to it that you esteem him not blessed, being rapt-away by the phantasm. For if Good, in its essence, be in those things which depend upon ourselves, then there is no place for jealousy or envy, and you yourself will not wish to be a general, or a prince, or a consul—but to be free. And to this there is but one way — disdain of the things that not up ourselves.
You can be unconquerable, if you enter into no combat in which it is not in your own power to conquer. When, therefore, you see any one eminent in honors or power, or in high esteem on any other account, take heed not to be bewildered by appearances and to pronounce him happy; for if the essence of good consists in things within our own power, there will be no room for envy or emulation. But, for your part, do not desire to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free; and the only way to this is a disregard of things which lie not within our own power.
You may be unconquerable, if you enter into no combat in which it is not in your own control to conquer. When, therefore, you see anyone eminent in honors, or power, or in high esteem on any other account, take heed not to be hurried away with the appearance, and to pronounce him happy; for, if the essence of good consists in things in our own control, there will be no room for envy or emulation. But, for your part, don’t wish to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free; and the only way to this is a contempt of things not in our own control.
Ἀνίκητος εἶναι δύνασαι, ἐὰν εἰς μηδένα ἀγῶνα καταβαίνῃς, ὃν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπὶ σοὶ νικῆσαι.
ὅρα μήποτε ἰδών τινα προτιμώμενον ἢ μέγα δυνάμενον ἢ ἄλλως εὐδοκιμοῦντα μακαρίσῃς, ὑπὸ τῆς φαντασίας συναρπασθείς. ἐὰν γὰρ ἐν τοῖς ἐφ’ ἡμῖν ἡ οὐσία τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ᾖ, οὔτε φθόνος οὔτε ζηλοτυπία χώραν ἔχει: σύ τε αὐτὸς οὐ στρατηγός, οὐ πρύτανις ἢ ὕπατος εἶναι θελήσεις, ἀλλ’ ἐλεύθερος. μία δὲ ὁδὸς πρὸς τοῦτο, καταφρόνησις τῶν οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν.