Right now, assume a character and a way of behaving that you can follow consistently both when alone and when with others.
Lay down for yourself, at the outset, a certain stamp and type of character for yourself, which you are to maintain whether you are by yourself or are meeting with people. And be silent for the most part, or else make only the most necessary remarks, and express these in few words. But rarely, and when occasion requires you to talk, talk, indeed, but about no ordinary topics. Do not talk about gladiators, or horse-races, or athletes, or things to eat or drink—topics that arise on all occasions; but above all, do not talk about people, either blaming, or praising, or comparing them. If, then, you can, by your own conversation bring over that of your companions to what is seemly. But if you happen to be left alone in the presence of aliens, keep silence.
Do not laugh much, nor at many things, nor boisterously.
Refuse, if you can, to take an oath at all, but if that is impossible, refuse as far as circumstances allow.
Avoid entertainments given by outsiders and by persons ignorant of philosophy; but if an appropriate occasion arises for you to attend, be on the alert to avoid lapsing into the behaviour of such laymen. For you may rest assured, that, if a man’s companion be dirty, the person who keeps close company with him must of necessity get a share of his dirt, even though he himself happens to be clean.
In things that pertain to the body take only as much as your bare need requires, I mean such things as food, drink, clothing, shelter, and household slaves; but cut down everything which is for outward show or luxury.
In your sex-life preserve purity, as far as you can, before marriage, and, if you indulge, take only those privileges which are lawful. However, do not make yourself offensive, or censorious, to those who do indulge, and do not make frequent mention of the fact that you do not yourself indulge.
If someone brings you word that So-and-so is speaking ill of you, do not defend yourself against what has been said, but answer, “Yes, indeed, for he did not know the rest of the faults that attach to me; if he had, these would not have been the only ones he mentioned.”
It is not necessary, for the most part, to go to the public shows. If, however, a suitable occasion ever arises, show that your principal concern is for none other than yourself, which means, wish only for that to happen which does happen, and for him only to win who does win; for so you will suffer no hindrance. But refrain utterly from shouting, or laughter at anyone, or great excitement. And after you have left, do not talk a great deal about what took place, except in so far as it contributes to your own improvement; for such behaviour indicates that the spectacle has aroused your admiration.
Do not go rashly or readily to people’s public readings, but when you do go, maintain your own dignity and gravity, and at the same time be careful not to make yourself disagreeable.
When you are about to meet somebody, in particular when it is one of those men who are held in very high esteem, propose to yourself the question, “What would Socrates or Zeno have done under these circumstances?” and then you will not be at a loss to make proper use of the occasion. When you go to see one of those men who have great power, propose to yourself the thought, that you will not find him at home, that you will be shut out, that the door will be slammed in your face, that he will pay no attention to you. And if, despite all this, it is your duty to go, go and take what comes, and never say to yourself, “It was not worth all the trouble.” For this is characteristic of the layman, that is, a man who is vexed at externals.
In your conversation avoid making mention at great length and excessively of your own deeds or dangers, because it is not as pleasant for others to hear about your adventures, as it is for you to call to mind your own dangers.
Avoid also raising a laugh, for this is a kind of behaviour that slips easily into vulgarity, and at the same time is calculated to lessen the respect which your neighbours have of you. It is dangerous also to lapse into foul language. When, therefore, anything of the sort occurs, if the occasion be suitable, go even so far as to reprove the person who has made such a lapse; if, however, the occasion does not arise, at all events show by keeping silence, and blushing, and frowning, that you are displeased by what has been said.
Lay down for yourself from the first a definite stamp and style of conduct, which you will maintain when you are alone and also in the society of men. Be silent for the most part, or, if you speak, say only what is necessary and in a few words. Talk, but rarely, if occasion calls you, but do not talk of ordinary things—of gladiators, or horse-races, or athletes, or of meats or drinks—these are topics that arise everywhere—but above all do not talk about men in blame or compliment or comparison. If you can, turn the conversation of your company by your talk to some fitting subject; but if you shouldgravity and dignity and do not make yourself offensive. When you are going to meet any one, and particularly some man of reputed eminence, set before your mind the thought, ‘What would Socrates or Zeno have done?’ and you will not fail to make proper use of the occasion.
When you go to visit some great man, prepare your mind by thinking that you will not find him in, that you will be shut out, that the doors will be slammed in your face, that he will pay no heed to you. And if in spite of all this you find it fitting for you to go, go and bear what happens and never say to yourself, ‘It was not worth all this’; for that shows a vulgar mind and one at odds with outward things.
In your conversation avoid frequent and disproportionate mention of your own doings or adventures; for other people do not take the same pleasure in hearing what has happened to you as you take in recounting your adventures.
Avoid raising men’s laughter; for it is a habit that easily slips into vulgarity, and it may well suffice to lessen your neighbour’s respect.
It is dangerous too to lapse into foul language; when anything of the kind occurs, rebuke the offender, if the occasion allow, and if not, make it plain to him by your silence, or a blush or a frown, that you are angry at his words.
Immediately prescribe some character and some form to yourself, which you shall observe both when you are alone and when you meet with men.
And let silence be the general rule, or let only what is necessary be said, and in few words. And rarely and when the occasion calls we shall say something; but about none of the common subjects, nor about gladiators, nor horse-races, nor about athletes, nor about eating or drinking, which are the usual subjects; and especially not about men, as blaming them or praising them, or comparing them. If then you are able, bring over by your conversation the conversation of your associates to that which is proper; but if you should happen to be confined to the company of strangers, be silent.
Let not your laughter be much, nor on many occasions, nor excessive.
Refuse altogether to take an oath, if it is possible: if it is not, refuse as far as you are able.
Avoid banquets which are given by strangers and by ignorant persons. But if ever there is occasion to join in them, let your attention be carefully fixed, that you slip not into the manners of the vulgar (the uninstructed). For you must know, that if your companion be impure, he also who keeps company with him must become impure, though he should happen to be pure.
Take (apply) the things which relate to the body as far as the bare use, as food, drink, clothing, house, and slaves: but exclude everything which is for show or luxury.
As to pleasure with women, abstain as far as you can before marriage: but if you do indulge in it, do it in the way which is conformable to custom. Do not, however, be disagreeable to those who indulge in these pleasures, or reprove them; and do not often boast that you do not indulge in them yourself.
If a man has reported to you, that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make any defense (answer) to what has been told you: but reply, The man did not know the rest of my faults, for he would not have mentioned these only.
It is not necessary to go to the theaters often: but if there is ever a proper occasion for going, do not show yourself as being a partisan of any man except yourself, that is, desire only that to be done which is done, and for him only to gain the prize who gains the prize; for in this way you will meet with no hindrance But abstain entirely from shouts and laughter at any (thing or person), or violent emotions. And when you are come away, do not talk much about what has passed on the stage, except about that which may lead to your own improvement. For it is plain, if you do talk much, that you admired the spectacle (more than you ought).
Do not go to the hearing of certain persons’ recitations nor visit them readily. But if you do attend, observe gravity and sedateness, and also avoid making yourself disagreeable.
When you are going to meet with any person, and particularly one of those who are considered to be in a superior condition, place before yourself what Socrates or Zeno would have done in such circumstances, and you will have no difficulty in making a proper use of the occasion.
When you are going to any of those who are in great power, place before yourself that you will not find the man at home, that you will be excluded, that the door will not be opened to you, that the man will not care about you. And if with all this it is your duty to visit him, bear what happens, and never say to yourself that it was not worth the trouble. For this is silly, and marks the character of a man who is offended by externals.
In company take care not to speak much and excessively about your own acts or dangers: for as it is pleasant to you to make mention of your dangers, it is not so pleasant to others to hear what has happened to you. Take care also not to provoke laughter; for this is a slippery way toward vulgar habits, and is also adapted to diminish the respect of your neighbors. It is a dangerous habit also to approach obscene talk. When, then, anything of this kind happens, if there is a good opportunity, rebuke the man who has proceeded to this talk: but if there is not an opportunity, by your silence at least, and blushing and expression of dissatisfaction by your countenance, show plainly that you are displeased at such talk.
Ordain for yourself forthwith a certain principle and outline of conduct which you may observe both when you are alone and among men.
And for the most part keep silence, or speak only what is necessary, and in few words. But when occasion shall require us to speak, then we shall speak, but sparingly, and not about any subject at haphazard, nor about gladiators, nor horse races, nor athletes, nor about things to eat or drink, which one hears talked about everywhere, but especially not about men, as blaming, or praising, or comparing them.
If then you are able, let your discourse draw that of the company towards what is fitting; but if you find yourself apart among strangers, keep silence.
Do not laugh much, nor at many things, nor unrestrainedly.
Refuse altogether to take an oath, if possible; if not, then as much as circumstances permit.
Avoid banquets given by strangers and by the sensual. But if you ever have occasion to go to them, then keep your attention on the stretch that you do not fall into sensuality. For know that if your companion be corrupted, you, who have conversation with him, must needs become corrupted also, even though yourself should chance to be pure.
In things that concern the body, such as food, drink, clothing, habitation, servants, you must only accept what is absolutely needful. But all that makes for show or luxury, you must utterly proscribe.
Concerning sexual pleasures, it is right to be pure before marriage, as much as in you lies, But if you do indulge in them, let it be according to what is lawful. But do not in any case make yourself disagreeable to those who use such pleasures, nor be fond of reproving them, nor of putting yourself forward as not using them.
If you shall be informed that some one has been speaking ill of you, do not defend yourself against his accusations, but answer, He little knew what other vices there are in me, or he would have said more than that.
You need not go often to the arena; if how ever occasion should take you there, do not appear interested on any man’s side except your own; that is to say, desire that that only may happen which does happen, and that the conqueror may be be who wins; for so shall you not be embarrassed. But shouting, and laughter at this or that, and gesticulation, all this you must utterly abstain from. And after you have gone away, do not talk much over what has passed, so far as it does not tend towards your own improvement. For from that it would appear that you bad been impressed with the spectacle.
Do not attend everybody’s recitations nor be easily induced to go to them. But if you do go, preserve (yet without making yourself offensive) your gravity and tranquility.
When you are about to meet any person, especially if he be one of those considered to be high in rank, put before yourself what Socrates or Zeno would have done in such a case. And then you will not fail to deal fittingly with the occasion.
When you are going to see one of those who are great in power, imagine that you will not find him at home, that you will be shut out, that the doors will be banged in your face, that he will take no notice of you. And if in spite of these things it be right for you to go, then go, and bear whatever may happen, and never say to yourself I did not deserve such treatment. For that is sensual, and shows that you are subject to vexation from external things.
In company, be it far from you to bring your own doings and dangers constantly and disproportionately into notice. For though it is pleasant for you to tell of your own dangers, yet your adventures are not equally pleasant for other persons to hear.
Be it far from you to move laughter. For that habit easily slips into sensuality; and it is always enough to lower your neighbor’s respect for you.
And it is dangerous to approach to vicious conversation. Therefore when anything of the kind may arise, rebuke him who approaches thereto, if you can do so opportunely. But if not, show at least by your silence, and blushing, and serious looks that his words are disagreeable to you.
Begin by prescribing to yourself some character and demeanor, such as you may preserve both alone and in company.
Be mostly silent; or speak merely what is needful, and in few words. We may, however, enter sparingly into discourse sometimes, when occasion calls for it; but let it not run on any of the common subjects, as gladiators, or horse-races, or athletic champions, or food, or drink, -the vulgar topics of conversation; and especially not on men, so as either to blame, or praise, or make comparisons. If you are able, then, by your own conversation, bring over that of your company to proper subjects; but if you happen to find yourself among strangers, be silent.
Let not your laughter be loud, frequent, or abundant.
Avoid taking oaths, if possible, altogether; at any rate, so far as you are able.
Avoid public and vulgar entertainments; but if ever an occasion calls you to them, keep your attention upon the stretch, that you may not imperceptibly slide into vulgarity. For be assured that if a person be ever so pure himself, yet, if his companion be corrupted, he who converses with him will be corrupted likewise.
Provide things relating to the body no farther than absolute need requires; as meat, drink, clothing, house, retinue. But cut off everything that looks towards show and luxury.
Before marriage, guard yourself with all your ability from unlawful intercourse with women; yet be not uncharitable or severe to those who are led into this, nor frequently boast that you yourself do otherwise.
If any one tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”
It is not necessary for you to appear often at public spectacles; but if ever there is a proper occasion for you to be there, do not appear more solicitous for any other than for yourself; that is, wish things to be only just as they are, and only the best man to win; for thus nothing will go against you. But abstain entirely from acclamations and derision and violent emotions. And when you come away, do not discourse a great deal on what has passed, and what contributes nothing to your own amendment. For it would appear by such discourse that you were dazzled by the show.
Be not prompt or ready to attend private recitations; but if you do attend, preserve your gravity and dignity, and yet avoid making yourself disagreeable.
When you are going to confer with any one, and especially with one who seems your superior, represent to yourself how Socrates or Zeno would behave in such a case, and you will not be at a loss to meet properly whatever may occur.
When you are going before any one in power, fancy to yourself that you may not find him at home, that you may be shut out, that the doors may not be opened to you, that he may not notice you. If, with all this, it be your duty to go, bear what happens, and never say to yourself, “It was not worth so much.” For this is vulgar, and like a man bewildered by externals.
In society, avoid a frequent and excessive mention of your own actions and dangers. For however agreeable it may be to yourself to allude to the risks you have run, it is not equally agreeable to others to hear your adventures. Avoid likewise an endeavor to excite laughter. For this may readily slide you into vulgarity, and, besides, may be apt to lower you in the esteem of your acquaintance. Approaches to indecent discourse are likewise dangerous. Therefore when anything of this sort happens, use the first fit opportunity to rebuke him who makes advances that way; or, at least, by silence and blushing and a serious look, show yourself to be displeased by such talk.
Immediately prescribe some character and form of conduce to yourself, which you may keep both alone and in company.
Be for the most part silent, or speak merely what is necessary, and in few words. We may, however, enter, though sparingly, into discourse sometimes when occasion calls for it, but not on any of the common subjects, of gladiators, or horse races, or athletic champions, or feasts, the vulgar topics of conversation; but principally not of men, so as either to blame, or praise, or make comparisons. If you are able, then, by your own conversation bring over that of your company to proper subjects; but, if you happen to be taken among strangers, be silent.
Don’t allow your laughter be much, nor on many occasions, nor profuse.
Avoid swearing, if possible, altogether; if not, as far as you are able.
Avoid public and vulgar entertainments; but, if ever an occasion calls you to them, keep your attention upon the stretch, that you may not imperceptibly slide into vulgar manners. For be assured that if a person be ever so sound himself, yet, if his companion be infected, he who converses with him will be infected likewise.
Provide things relating to the body no further than mere use; as meat, drink, clothing, house, family. But strike off and reject everything relating to show and delicacy.
As far as possible, before marriage, keep yourself pure from familiarities with women, and, if you indulge them, let it be lawfully.” But don’t therefore be troublesome and full of reproofs to those who use these liberties, nor frequently boast that you yourself don’t.
If anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, don’t make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: ” He does not know my other faults, else he would not have mentioned only these.”
It is not necessary for you to appear often at public spectacles; but if ever there is a proper occasion for you to be there, don’t appear more solicitous for anyone than for yourself; that is, wish things to be only just as they are, and him only to conquer who is the conqueror, for thus you will meet with no hindrance. But abstain entirely from declamations and derision and violent emotions. And when you come away, don’t discourse a great deal on what has passed, and what does not contribute to your own amendment. For it would appear by such discourse that you were immoderately struck with the show.
Go not [of your own accord] to the rehearsals of any (authors) , nor appear [at them] readily. But, if you do appear, keepyour gravity and sedateness, and at the same time avoid being morose.
When you are going to confer with anyone, and particularly of those in a superior station, represent to yourself how Socrates or Zeno would behave in such a case, and you will not be at a loss to make a proper use of whatever may occur.
When you are going to any of the people in power, represent to yourself that you will not find him at home; that you will not be admitted; that the doors will not be opened to you; that he will take no notice of you. If, with all this, it is your duty to go, bear what happens, and never say [to yourself], ” It was not worth so much.” For this is vulgar, and like a man dazed by external things.
In parties of conversation, avoid a frequent and excessive mention of your own actions and dangers. For, however agreeable it may be to yourself to mention the risks you have run, it is not equally agreeable to others to hear your adventures. Avoid, likewise, an endeavor to excite laughter. For this is a slippery point, which may throw you into vulgar manners, and, besides, may be apt to lessen you in the esteem of your acquaintance. Approaches to indecent discourse are likewise dangerous. Whenever, therefore, anything of this sort happens, if there be a proper opportunity, rebuke him who makes advances that way; or, at least, by silence and blushing and a forbidding look, show yourself to be displeased by such talk.
Τάξον τινὰ ἤδη χαρακτῆρα σαυτῷ καὶ τύπον, ὃν φυλάξεις ἐπί τε σεαυτοῦ ὢν καὶ ἀνθρώποις ἐντυγχάνων.
καὶ σιωπὴ τὸ πολὺ ἔστω ἢ λαλείσθω τὰ ἀναγκαῖα καὶ δι’ ὀλίγων. σπανίως δέ ποτε καιροῦ παρακαλοῦντος ἐπὶ τὸ λέγειν λέξον μέν, ἀλλὰ περὶ οὐδενὸς τῶν τυχόντων: μὴ περὶ μονομαχιῶν, μὴ περὶ ἱπποδρομιῶν, μὴ περὶ ἀθλητῶν, μὴ περὶ βρωμάτων ἢ πομάτων, τῶν ἑκασταχοῦ, μάλιστα δὲ μὴ περὶ ἀνθρώπων ψέγων ἢ ἐπαινῶν ἢ συγκρίνων.
ἂν μὲν οὖν οἷός τε ᾖς, μετάγαγε τοῖς σοῖς λόγοις καὶ τοὺς τῶν συνόντων ἐπὶ τὸ προσῆκον. εἰ δὲ ἐν ἀλλοφύλοις ἀποληφθεὶς τύχοις, σιώπα.
γέλως μὴ πολὺς ἔστω μηδὲ ἐπὶ πολλοῖς μηδὲ ἀνειμένος.
ὅρκον παραίτησαι, εἰ μὲν οἷόν τε, εἰς ἅπαν, εἰ δὲ μή, ἐκ τῶν ἐνόντων. ἑστιάσεις τὰς ἔξω καὶ ἰδιωτικὰς διακρούου:
ἐὰν δέ ποτε γίνηται καιρός, ἐντετάσθω σοι ἡ προσοχή, μήποτε ἄρα ὑποῤῥυῇς εἰς ἰδιωτισμόν. ἴσθι γάρ, ὅτι, ἐὰν ὁ ἑταῖρος ᾖ μεμολυσμένος, καὶ τὸν συνανατριβόμενον αὐτῷ συμμολύνεσθαι ἀνάγκη, κἂν αὐτὸς ὢν τύχῃ καθαρός.
τὰ περὶ τὸ σῶμα μέχρι τῆς χρείας ψιλῆς παραλάμβανε, οἷον τροφάς, πόμα, ἀμπεχόνην, οἰκίαν, οἰκετίαν: τὸ δὲ πρὸς δόξαν ἢ τρυφὴν ἅπαν περίγραφε. περὶ ἀφροδίσια εἰς δύναμιν πρὸ γάμου καθαρευτέον:
ἁπτομένῳ δὲ ὧν νόμιμόν ἐστι μεταληπτέον. μὴ μέντοι ἐπαχθὴς γίνου τοῖς χρωμένοις μηδὲ ἐλεγκτικός: μηδὲ πολλαχοῦ τὸ ὅτι αὐτὸς οὐ χρῇ, παράφερε.
ἐὰν τίς σοι ἀπαγγείλῃ ὅτι ὁ δεῖνά σε κακῶς λέγει, μὴ ἀπολογοῦ πρὸς τὰ λεχθέντα, ἀλλ’ ἀποκρίνου διότι «ἠγνόει γὰρ τὰ ἄλλα τὰ προσόντα μοι κακά, ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἂν ταῦτα μόνα ἔλεγεν».
εἰς τὰ θέατρα τὸ πολὺ παριέναι οὐκ ἀναγκαῖον. εἰ δέ ποτε καιρὸς εἴη, μηδενὶ σπουδάζων φαίνου ἢ σεαυτῷ, τοῦτ’ ἔστι. θέλε γίνεσθαι μόνα τὰ γινόμενα καὶ νικᾶν μόνον τὸν νικῶντα: οὕτω γὰρ οὐκ ἐμποδισθήσῃ. βοῆς δὲ καὶ τοῦ ἐπιγελᾶν τινι ἢ ἐπὶ πολὺ συγκινεῖσθαι παντελῶς ἀπέχου. καὶ μετὰ τὸ ἀπαλλαγῆναι μὴ πολλὰ περὶ τῶν γεγενημένων διαλέγου, ὅσα μὴ φέρει πρὸς τὴν σὴν ἐπανόρθωσιν: ἐμφαίνεται γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ τοιούτου, ὅτι ἐθαύμασας τὴν θέαν.
εἰς ἀκροάσεις τινῶν μὴ εἰκῇ μηδὲ ῥᾳδίως πάριθι: παριὼν δὲ τὸ σεμνὸν καὶ τὸ εὐσταθὲς καὶ ἅμα ἀνεπαχθὲς φύλασσε.
ὅταν τινὶ μέλλῃς συμβαλεῖν, μάλιστα τῶν ἐν ὑπεροχῇ δοκούντων, πρόβαλε σαυτῷ, τί ἂν ἐποίησεν ἐν τούτῳ Σωκράτης ἢ Ζήνων, καὶ οὐκ ἀπορήσεις τοῦ χρήσασθαι προσηκόντως τῷ ἐμπεσόντι.
ὅταν φοιτᾷς πρός τινα τῶν μέγα δυναμένων, πρόβαλε, ὅτι οὐχ εὑρήσεις αὐτὸν ἔνδον, ὅτι ἀποκλεισθήσῃ, ὅτι ἐντιναχθήσονταί σοι αἱ θύραι, ὅτι οὐ φροντιεῖ σου. κἂν σὺν τούτοις ἐλθεῖν καθήκῃ, ἐλθὼν φέρε τὰ γινόμενα καὶ μηδέποτε εἴπῃς αὐτὸς πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ὅτι «οὐκ ἦν τοσούτου»: ἰδιωτικὸν γὰρ καὶ διαβεβλημένον πρὸς τὰ ἐκτός.
ἐν ταῖς ὁμιλίαις ἀπέστω τὸ ἑαυτοῦ τινων ἔργων ἢ κινδύνων ἐπὶ πολὺ καὶ ἀμέτρως μεμνῆσθαι. οὐ γάρ, ὡς σοὶ ἡδύ ἐστι τὸ τῶν σῶν κινδύνων μεμνῆσθαι, οὕτω καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἡδύ ἐστι τὸ τῶν σοὶ συμβεβηκότων ἀκούειν.
ἀπέστω δὲ καὶ τὸ γέλωτα κινεῖν: ὀλισθηρὸς γὰρ ὁ τρόπος εἰς ἰδιωτισμὸν καὶ ἅμα ἱκανὸς τὴν αἰδῶ τὴν πρὸς σὲ τῶν πλησίον ἀνιέναι.
ἐπισφαλὲς δὲ καὶ τὸ εἰς αἰσχρολογίαν προελθεῖν. ὅταν οὖν τι συμβῇ τοιοῦτον, ἂν μὲν εὔκαιρον ᾖ, καὶ ἐπίπληξον τῷ προελθόντι: εἰ δὲ μή, τῷ γε ἀποσιωπῆσαι καὶ ἐρυθριᾶσαι καὶ σκυθρωπάσαι δῆλος γίνου δυσχεραίνων τῷ λόγῳ.