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1 — Stephen Walton

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Some things we can control, some we can’t. We can control our attitudes, opinions, goals and desires – choices of our own. We can’t control health, wealth, fame or power – things we can’t have by choosing them.

What we can control naturally is not governed, restricted or constrained by others; what we can’t control is naturally governed, restricted and constrained by others. If you mistake what’s constrained for what’s free, and what others control for what you control, you’re in for it: you won’t get your way, you’ll be unhappy, you’ll be disturbed, and you’ll be spewing blame in every direction. But if you take for your own only what really is your own, and what’s not up to you as exactly that, then you’ve got it made: no one will ever make you do what you don’t want to, no one will ever thwart you, you won’t find fault with anyone, you’ll have no enemies and you’ll never come to harm.

With this much to aim for, you’d better believe it won’t be attained without effort. There’ll be things you’ll have to give up for good, and others to put on the shelf. For instance, if you want what we’re talking about, and you still want power and money too, then you probably won’t get them because you’ve compromised your pursuit of them with this philosophy stuff, and you definitely won’t get the things we’re discussing here that are the sole basis for freedom and happiness. Practice a new attitude toward events that seem unpleasant, telling yourself that the way they seem isn’t the way they have to be for you. Analyze each event according to the rules you’re learning, especially this: Is it something you can control or not? If not, be ready to say it’s not your concern.

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Some things are under our control, while others are not under our control. Under our control are conception, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything that is our own doing; not under our control are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything that is not our own doing. Furthermore, the things under our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unimpeded; while the things not under our control are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, and not our own. Remember, therefore, that if what is naturally slavish you think to be free, and what is not your own to be your own, you will be hampered, will grieve, will be in turmoil, and will blame both gods and men; while if you think only what is your own to be your own, and what is not your own to be, as it really is, not your own, then no one will ever be able to exert compulsion upon you, no one will hinder you, you will blame no one, will find fault with no one, will do absolutely nothing against your will, you will have no personal enemy, no one will harm you, for neither is there any harm that can touch you.

With such high aims, therefore, remember that you must bestir yourself with no slight effort to lay hold of them, but you will have to give up some things entirely, and defer others for the time being. But if you wish for these things also, and at the same time for both office and wealth, it may be that you will not get even these latter, because you aim also at the former, and certainly you will fail to get the former, which alone bring freedom and happiness.

Make it, therefore, your study at the very outset to say to every harsh external impression, “You are an external impression and not at all what you appear to be.” After that examine it and test it by these rules which you have, the first and most important of which is this: Whether the impression has to do with the things which are under our control, or with those which are not under our control; and, if it has to do with some one of the things not under our control, have ready to hand the answer, “It is nothing to me.”

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1 — P.E. Matheson

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Of all existing things some are in our power, and others are not in our power. In our power are thought, impulse, will to get and will to avoid, and, in a word, everything which is our own doing. Things not in our power include the body, property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything which is not our own doing. Things in our power are by nature free, unhindered, untrammelled; things not in our power are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, dependent on others. Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another’s is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men; but if you think that only your own belongs to you, and that what is another’s is indeed another’s, no one will ever put compulsion or hindrance on you, you will blame none, you will accuse none, you will do nothing against your will, no one will harm you, you will have no enemy, for no harm can touch you.

Aiming then at these high matters, you must remember that to attain them requires more than ordinary effort; you will have to give up some things entirely, and put off others for the moment. And if you would have these also—office and wealth—it may be that you will fail to get them, just because your desire is set on the former, and you will certainly fail to attain those things which alone bring freedom and happiness.

Make it your study then to confront every harsh impression with the words, ‘You are but an impression, and not at all what you seem to be’. Then test it by those rules that you possess; and first by this—the chief test of all—‘Is it concerned with what is in our power or with what is not in our power?’ And if it is concerned with what is not in our power, be ready with the answer that it is nothing to you.

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1 — George Long

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Of things some are in our power, and others are not. In our power are opinion, movement toward a thing, desire, aversion (turning from a thing); and in a word, whatever are our own acts: not in our power are the body, property, reputation, offices (magisterial power), and in a word, what­ever are not our own acts. And the things in our power are by nature free, not subject to restraint nor hindrance: but the things not in our power are weak, slavish, subject to restraint, in the power of others. Remember then that if you think the things which are by nature slavish to be free, and the things which are in the power of others to be your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will blame both gods and men: but if you think that only which is your own to be your own, and if you think that what is another’s, as it really is, belongs to another, no man will ever compel you, no man will hinder you, you will never blame any man, you will accuse no man, you will do nothing involuntarily (against your will), no man will harm you, you will have no enemy, for you will not suffer any harm.

If then you desire (aim at) such great things, remember that you must not (attempt to) lay hold of them with a small effort; but you must leave alone some things entirely, and postpone others for the present. But if you wish for these things also (such great things), and power (office) and wealth, perhaps you will not gain even these very things (power and wealth) because you aim also at those former things (such great things): certainly you will fail in those things through which alone happiness and freedom are secured. Straightway, then, practice saying to every harsh appearance, You are an appearance, and in no manner what you appear to be. Then examine it by the rules which you possess, and by this first and chiefly, whether it relates to the things which are in our power or to the things which are not in our power: and if it relates to anything which is not in our power, be ready to say, that it does not concern you.

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1 — T.W. Rolleston

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Of things that exist, some depend upon ourselves, others do not depend upon ourselves. Of things that depend upon ourselves are our opinions and impulses, desires and aversions, and, briefly, all that is of our own doing. Of things that do not depend upon ourselves are the body, possessions, reputation, civil authority, and, briefly, all that is not of our own doing.

And the things that depend upon ourselves are in their nature free, not liable to hindrance or embarrassment, while the things that do not depend upon ourselves are strengthless, servile, subject, alien.

Remember then, that if you take things which are by nature subject, to be free; and things alien to be your proper interest, you will be embarrassed, you will bewail yourself, you will be troubled, you will blame Gods and men. But if you consider that only to be yours which truly is so, and the alien as what it is, alien, then none shall ever compel you, none shall hinder you, you will blame no one, you will accuse no one, you will not do the least thing reluctantly, none shall harm you, you will have no foe, for you will suffer no injury.

Aiming then at things so high, remember that it is no moderate passion wherewith you must attempt them, but you must utterly renounce some things, and put some, for the present, aside, For if (let us say) you make this also your object, to attain a position of authority and wealth, then you not only run the risk (through aiming at the first things too) of failing to gain these ends, but will most assuredly miss those others through which alone freedom and happiness are born,

Straightway, then, practice saying to every harsh-seeming phantasm, You are a Phantasm, and not by any means the thing you appear to be. Then realize it, and test it according to the crIterions you possess; but especially by this supreme criterion, whether it concerns anything that depends upon ourselves, or something that does not depend upon ourselves, And if the latter, then be the thought instantly at hand, It is nothing to me,

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1 — T.W. Higginson

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There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power. Within our power are opinion, aim, desire, aversion, and, in one word, whatever affairs are our own. Beyond our power are body, property, reputation, office, and, in one word, whatever are not properly our own affairs.

Now, the things within our power are by nature free, unrestricted, unhindered; but those beyond our power are weak, dependent, restricted, alien. Remember, then, that if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent, and take what belongs to others for your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you take for your own only that which is your own, and view what belongs to others just as it really is, then no one will ever compel you, no one will restrict you, you will find fault with no one, you will accuse no one, you will do nothing against your will; no one will hurt you, you will not have an enemy, nor will you suffer any harm.

Aiming therefore at such great things, remember that you must not allow yourself any inclination, however slight, towards the attainment of the others; but that you must entirely quit some of them, and for the present postpone the rest. But if you would have these, and possess power and wealth likewise, you may miss the latter in seeking the former; and you will certainly fail of that by which alone happiness and freedom are procured.

Seek at once, therefore, to be able to say to every unpleasing semblance, ” You are but a semblance and by no means the real thing.” And then examine it by those rules which you have; and first and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the things which are within our own power, or those which are not; and if it concerns anything beyond our power, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.

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1 — Elizabeth Carter

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Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.

Aiming therefore at such great things, remember that you must not allow yourself to be carried, even with a slight tendency, towards the attainment of lesser things. Instead, you must entirely quit some things and for the present postpone the rest. But if you would both have these great things, along with power and riches, then you will not gain even the latter, because you aim at the former too: but you will absolutely fail of the former, by which alone happiness and freedom are achieved.

Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance, “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” And then examine it by those rules which you have, and first, and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not; and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.

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1 — Epictetus

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Τῶν ὄντων τὰ μέν ἐστιν ἐφ’ ἡμῖν, τὰ δὲ οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν. ἐφ’ ἡμῖν μὲν ὑπόληψις, ὁρμή, ὄρεξις, ἔκκλισις καὶ ἑνὶ λόγῳ ὅσα ἡμέτερα ἔργα: οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν δὲ τὸ σῶμα, ἡ κτῆσις, δόξαι, ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἑνὶ λόγῳ ὅσα οὐχ ἡμέτερα ἔργα.

Καὶ τὰ μὲν ἐφ’ ἡμῖν ἐστι φύσει ἐλεύθερα, ἀκώλυτα, ἀπαραπόδιστα, τὰ δὲ οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν ἀσθενῆ, δοῦλα, κωλυτά, ἀλλότρια.

Μέμνησο οὖν,ότι, ἐὰν τὰ φύσει δοῦλα ἐλεύθερα οἰηθῇς καὶ τὰ ἀλλότρια ἴδια, ἐμποδισθήσῃ, πενθήσεις, ταραχθήσῃ, μέμψῃ καὶ θεοὺς καὶ ἀνθρώπους, ἐὰν δὲ τὸ σὸν μόνον οἰηθῇς σὸν εἶναι, τὸ δὲ ἀλλότριον, ὥσπερ ἐστίν, ἀλλότριον, οὐδείς σε ἀναγκάσει οὐδέποτε, οὐδείς σε κωλύσει, οὐ μέμψῃ οὐδένα, οὐκ ἐγκαλέσεις τινί, ἄκων πράξεις οὐδὲ ἕν, οὐδείς σε βλάψει, ἐχθρὸν οὐχ ἕξεις, οὐδὲ γὰρ βλαβερόν τι πείσῃ.

Τηλικούτων οὖν ἐφιέμενος μέμνησο, ὅτι οὐ δεῖ μετρίως κεκινημένον ἅπτεσθαι αὐτῶν, ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν ἀφιέναι παντελῶς, τὰ δ’ ὑπερτίθεσθαι πρὸς τὸ παρόν. ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ταῦτ’ ἐθέλῃς καὶ ἄρχειν καὶ πλουτεῖν, τυχὸν μὲν οὐδ’ αὐτῶν τούτων τεύξῃ διὰ τὸ καὶ τῶν προτέρων ἐφίεσθαι, πάντως γε μὴν ἐκείνων ἀποτεύξη, δι’ ὧν μόνων ἐλευθερία καὶ εὐδαιμονία περιγίνεται.

Εὐθὺς οὖν πάσῃ φαντασίᾳ τραχείᾳ μελέτα ἐπιλέγειν ὅτι «φαντασία εἶ καὶ οὐ πάντως τὸ φαινόμενον». ἔπειτα ἐξέταζε αὐτὴν καὶ δοκίμαζε τοῖς κανόσι τούτοις οἷς ἔχεις, πρώτῳ δὲ τούτῳ καὶ μάλιστα, πότερον περὶ τὰ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν ἐστιν ἢ περὶ τὰ οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν: κἂν περί τι τῶν οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν ᾖ, πρόχειρον ἔστω τὸ διότι «οὐδὲν πρὸς ἐμέ».

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2 — Stephen Walton

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If you think you’ve got to have something, and you don’t get it, you’re miserable. If you think you’ve got to avoid something, and you wind up in the middle of it anyway, you’re miserable. That’s what happens, sooner or later, when you want something or want to avoid something. If the only things you try to avoid are things that really are under your own control, then you’ll never have to take what you wanted to avoid. But if you try to avoid illness or poverty or death, you’re bound to be miserable, sooner or later. So stop trying to avoid things you have no power to keep out of your life. Avoid instead the undesirable attitudes that are within your power to shun.

For now, put all desires on the shelf. If you pursue what you can’t control, you’ll be disappointed. And you don’t yet understand the things you can control that will be appropriate for you to pursue later.

As daily life requires simple selections and refusals of you, perform these gently and moderately, not desperately; go easy.

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Remember that the promise of desire is the attainment of what you desire, that of aversion is not to fall into what is avoided, and that he who fails in his desire is unfortunate, while he who falls into what he would avoid experiences misfortune. If, then, you avoid only what is unnatural among those things which are under your control, you will fall into none of the things which you avoid; but if you try to avoid disease, or death, or poverty, you will experience misfortune. Withdraw, therefore, your aversion from all the matters that are not under our control, and transfer it to what is unnatural among those which are under our control. But for the time being remove utterly your desire; for if you desire some one of the things that are not under our control you are bound to be unfortunate; and, at the same time, not one of the things that are under our control, which it would be excellent for you to desire, is within your grasp. But employ only choice and refusal, and these too but lightly, and with reservations, and without straining.

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2 — P.E. Matheson

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Remember that the will to get promises attainment of what you will, and the will to avoid promises escape from what you avoid; and he who fails to get what he wills is unfortunate, and he who does not escape what he wills to avoid is miserable. If then you try to avoid only what is unnatural in the region within your control, you will escape from all that you avoid; but if you try to avoid disease or death or poverty you will be miserable.

Therefore let your will to avoid have no concern with what is not in man’s power; direct it only to things in man’s power that are contrary to nature. But for the moment you must utterly remove the will to get; for if you will to get something not in man’s power you are bound to be unfortunate; while none of the things in man’s power that you could honourably will to get is yet within your reach. Impulse to act and not to act, these are your concern; yet exercise them gently and without strain, and provisionally.

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2 — George Long

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Remember that desire contains in it the profession (hope) of obtaining that which you desire; and the profession (hope) in aversion (turning from a thing) is that you will not fall into that which you attempt to avoid: and he who fails in his desire is unfortunate; and he who falls into that which he would avoid, is unhappy. If then you attempt to avoid only the things contrary to nature which are within your power, you will not be involved in any of the things which you would avoid. But if you attempt to avoid disease or death or poverty, you will be unhappy. Take away, then, aversion from all things which are not in our power, and transfer it to the things contrary to nature which are in our power. But destroy desire completely for the present. For if you desire anything which is not in our power, you must be unfortunate: but of the things in our power, and which it would be good to desire, nothing yet is before you. But employ only the power of moving toward an object and retiring from it; and these powers indeed only slightly and with exceptions and with remission.

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2 — T.W. Rolleston

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Remember that desire announces the aim of attaining the thing desired, and aversion that of not falling into the thing shunned; and that to miss what you desire is unfortunate, but it is misfortune to fall into what you shun, But you can never fall into anything that you shun, if you will shun only things contrary to Nature which lie within your power: but if you shun disease, or death, or poverty, you will have misfortune, Withdraw then your aversion from those things that do not depend upon ourselves, and place it upon those things contrary to Nature which do depend upon ourselves,

And let desire, for the present, be utterly effaced; for if you are desiring something of the kind that does not depend upon ourselves, it must needs be that you miscarry,and of the things that do depend upon ourselves, of such as you may fairly desire, none are yet open to you. Use therefore only [tentative] advances and withdrawals, and that but lightly, and with exception, and indifferently.

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2 — T.W. Higginson

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Remember that desire demands the attainment of that of which you are desirous; and aversion demands the avoidance of that to which you are averse; that he who fails of the object of his desires is disappointed; and he who incurs the object of his aversion is wretched. If, then, you shun only those undesirable things which you can control, you will never incur anything which you shun; but if you shun sickness, or death, or poverty, you will run the risk of wretchedness. Remove [the habit of] aversion, then, from all things that are not within our power, and apply it to things undesirable, which are within our power. But for the present altogether restrain desire; for if you desire any of the things not within our own power, you must necessarily be disappointed; and you are not yet secure of those which are within our power, and so are legitimate objects of desire. Where it is practically necessary for you to pursue or avoid anything, do even this with discretion, and gentleness, and moderation.

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2 — Elizabeth Carter

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Remember that following desire promises the attainment of that of which you are desirous; and aversion promises the avoiding that to which you are averse. However, he who fails to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who incurs the object of his aversion wretched. If, then, you confine your aversion to those objects only which are contrary to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your own control, you will never incur anything to which you are averse. But if you are averse to sickness, or death, or poverty, you will be wretched. Remove aversion, then, from all things that are not in our control, and transfer it to things contrary to the nature of what is in our control. But, for the present, totally suppress desire: for, if you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your possession. Use only the appropriate actions of pursuit and avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and reservation.

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2 — Epictetus

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Μέμνησο, ὅτι ὀρέξεως ἐπαγγελία ἐπιτυχία, οὗ ὀρέγῃ, ἐκκλίσεως ἐπαγγελία τὸ μὴ περιπεσεῖν ἐκείνῳ, ὃ ἐκκλίνεται, καὶ ὁ μὲν ἐν ὀρέξει ἀποτυγχάνων ἀτυχής, ὁ δὲ ἐν ἐκκλίσει περιπίπτων δυστυχής. ἂν μὲν οὖν μόνα ἐκκλίνῃς τὰ παρὰ φύσιν τῶν ἐπὶ σοί, οὐδενί, ὧν ἐκκλίνεις, περιπεσῇ: νόσον δ’ ἂν ἐκκλίνῃς ἢ θάνατον ἢ πενίαν, δυστυχήσεις.

ἆρον οὖν τὴν ἔκκλισιν ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν καὶ μετάθες ἐπὶ τὰ παρὰ φύσιν τῶν ἐφ’ ἡμῖν. τὴν ὄρεξιν δὲ παντελῶς ἐπὶ τοῦ παρόντος ἄνελε: ἄν τε γὰρ ὀρέγῃ τῶν οὐκ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν τινος, ἀτυχεῖν ἀνάγκη τῶν τε ἐφ’ ἡμῖν, ὅσων ὀρέγεσθαι καλὸν ἄν, οὐδὲν οὐδέπω σοι πάρεστι. μόνῳ δὲ τῷ ὁρμᾶν καὶ ἀφορμᾶν χρῶ, κούφως μέντοι καὶ μεθ’ ὑπεξαιρέσεως καὶ ἀνειμένως.

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3 — Stephen Walton

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With regard to everything that you enjoy, find useful, or love, keep their nature in mind, starting with the smallest things. If you have a favorite coffee cup, remember that it’s a cup; then if it’s broken, you can stand it. When you hug your child or your spouse, remember that it’s a mortal human being you’re hugging; then if that person dies, you can stand it.

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With everything which entertains you, is useful, or of which you are fond, remember to say to yourself, beginning with the very least things, “What is its nature?” If you are fond of a jug, say, “I am fond of a jug”; for when it is broken you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your own child or wife, say to yourself that you are kissing a human being; for when it dies you will not be disturbed.

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3 — P.E. Matheson

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When anything, from the meanest thing upwards, is attractive or serviceable or an object of affection, remember always to say to yourself, ‘What is its nature?’ If you are fond of a jug, say you are fond of a jug; then you will not be disturbed if it be broken. If you kiss your child or your wife, say to yourself that you are kissing a human being, for then if death strikes it you will not be disturbed.

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3 — George Long

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In everything which pleases the soul, or supplies a want, or is loved, remember to add this to the (description, notion): What is the nature of each thing, beginning from the smallest? If you love an earthen vessel, say it is an earthen vessel which you love; for when it has been broken, you will not be disturbed. If you are kissing your child or wife, say that it is a human being whom you are kissing, for when the wife or child dies, you will not be disturbed.

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3 — T.W. Rolleston

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In the case of everything that allures the mind, or offers an advantage, or is beloved by you, remember, from the least thing upward, to think of it in its true nature. For instance, if you like an earthen jar, think I like an earthen jar, for so your mind will not be confounded if it should break. And if you love your child or your wife, think I love a mortal and so you will not be confounded when they die.

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3 — T.W. Higginson

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With regard to whatever objects either delight the mind, or contribute to use, or are tenderly beloved, remind yourself of what nature they are, beginning with the merest trifles: if you have a favorite cup, that it is but a cup of which you are fond, - for thus, if it is broken, you can bear it; if you embrace your child, or your wife, that you embrace a mortal, - and thus, if either of them dies, you can bear it.

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3 — Elizabeth Carter

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With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.

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3 — Epictetus

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Εφ’ ἑκάστου τῶν ψυχαγωγούντων ἢ χρείαν παρεχόντων ἢ στεργομένων μέμνησο ἐπιλέγειν, ὁποῖόν ἐστιν, ἀπὸ τῶν σμικροτάτων ἀρξάμενος: ἂν χύτραν στέργῃς, ὅτι «χύτραν στέργω». κατεαγείσης γὰρ αὐτῆς οὐ ταραχθήσῃ: ἂν παιδίον σαυτοῦ καταφιλῇς ἢ γυναῖκα, ὅτι ἄνθρωπον καταφιλεῖς: ἀποθανόντος γὰρ οὐ ταραχθήσῃ.

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4 — Stephen Walton

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When you’re going to do something, keep the full nature of the activity in mind. If you’re going to a show, picture the way people behave at the theater – pushing, cutting in on lines, arriving late, talking. You’ll be better off if you say to yourself, “I’m going to see this show and I’m going to keep my attitudes under control.” And so with everything you do. Then if anything gets in the way of your enjoyment of the show, for example, you can say: “My goal wasn’t just to see this show, but to keep my attitudes under control, and I won’t keep them that way if I get irritated at what happens.”

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When you are on the point of putting your hand to some undertaking, remind yourself what the nature of that undertaking is. If you are going out of the house to bathe, put before your mind what happens at a public bath—those who splash you with water, those who jostle against you, those who vilify you and rob you. And thus you will set about your undertaking more securely if at the outset you say to yourself, “I want to take a bath, and, at the same time, to keep my moral purpose in harmony with nature.” And so do in every undertaking. For thus, if anything happens to hinder you in your bathing, you will be ready to say, “Oh, well, this was not the only thing that I wanted, but I wanted also to keep my moral purpose in harmony with nature; and I shall not so keep it if I am vexed at what is going on.”

Continue reading in the full William Abbott Oldfather translation

4 — P.E. Matheson

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When you are about to take something in hand, remind yourself what manner of thing it is. If you are going to bathe put before your mind what happens in the bath—water pouring over some, others being jostled,. some reviling, others stealing; and you will set to work more securely if you say to yourself at once: ‘I want to bathe, and I want to keep my will in harmony with nature,’ and so in each thing you do; for in this way, if anything turns up to hinder you in your bathing, you will be ready to say, ‘I did not want only to bathe, but to keep my will in harmony with nature, and I shall not so keep it, if I lose my temper at what happens’.

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4 — George Long

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When you are going to take in hand any act, remind yourself what kind of an act it is. If you are going to bathe, place before yourself what happens in the bath: some splashing the water, others pushing against one another, others abusing one another, and some stealing: and thus with more safety you will undertake the matter, if you say to yourself, I now intend to bathe, and to maintain my will in a manner con­formable to nature. And so you will do in every act: for thus if any hindrance to bathing shall happen, let this thought be ready; it was not this only that I intended, but I intended also to maintain my will in a way conformable to nature; but I shall not maintain it so, if I am vexed at what happens.

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4 — T.W. Rolleston

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When you are about to take in hand some action, bethink yourself what it really. Is that you are about to do If you propose to go to the bath, represent to yourself all the things that take place at the bathing establishment, the squirting of water, the beating, the bad language, the theft. And after this fashion you will take the matter more safely in hand if you say I intend simply to bathe, and to maintain my purpose according to Nature. And similarly with every action. For thus if anything’ should occur to cross you in your bathing, you will instantly think I did not only intend to bathe, but also that my purpose should be maintained according to Nature. But it will not be so maintained lf I let myself be vexed at what occurs.

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4 — T.W. Higginson

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When you set about any action, remind yourself of what nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, represent to yourself the incidents usual in the bath, - some persons pouring out, others pushing in, others scolding, others pilfering. And thus you will more safely go about this action, if you say to yourself, ” I will now go to bathe, and keep my own will in harmony with nature.” And so with regard to every other action. For thus, if any impediment arises in bathing, you will be able to say, “It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my will in harmony with nature; and I shall not keep it thus, if I am out of humor at things that happen.”

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4 — Elizabeth Carter

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When you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, picture to yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language, and others steal. Thus you will more safely go about this action if you say to yourself, “I will now go bathe, and keep my own mind in a state conformable to nature.” And in the same manner with regard to every other action. For thus, if any hindrance arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say, “It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind in a state conformable to nature; and I will not keep it if I am bothered at things that happen.

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4 — Epictetus

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Ὅταν ἅπτεσθαί τινος ἔργου μέλλῃς, ὑπομίμνῃσκε σεαυτόν, ὁποῖόν ἐστι τὸ ἔργον. ἐὰν λουσόμενος ἀπίῃς, πρόβαλλε σεαυτῷ τὰ γινόμενα ἐν βαλανείῳ, τοὺς ἀποῤῥαίνοντας, τοὺς ἐγκρουομένους, τοὺς λοιδοροῦντας, τοὺς κλέπτοντας. καὶ οὕτως ἀσφαλέστερον ἅψῃ τοῦ ἔργου, ἐὰν ἐπιλέγῃς εὐθὺς ὅτι «λούσασθαι θέλω καὶ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ προαίρεσιν κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν τηρῆσαι». καὶ ὡσαύτως ἐφ’ ἑκάστου ἔργου. οὕτω γὰρ ἄν τι πρὸς τὸ λούσασθαι γένηται ἐμποδών, πρόχειρον ἔσται διότι «ἀλλ’ οὐ τοῦτο ἤθελον μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ προαίρεσιν κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν τηρῆσαι: οὐ τηρήσω δέ, ἐὰν ἀγανακτῶ πρὸς τὰ γινόμενα».

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5 — Stephen Walton

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Events don’t disturb us; it’s the attitudes we take toward events that disturb us. For example, death isn’t terrible, or it would have seemed that way to Socrates; it’s the idea that death is terrible that’s terrible. So when we’re hindered or disturbed or saddened, let’s not blame others but rather our own opinions. It’s the ignorant person who blames others for her or his troubles, the person with a little training who blames only herself or himself, and the well-instructed person who blames no one.

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It is not the things themselves that disturb men, but their judgements about these things. For example, death is nothing dreadful, or else Socrates too would have thought so, but the judgement that death is dreadful, this is the dreadful thing. When, therefore, we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never blame anyone but ourselves, that means, our own judgements. It is the part of an uneducated person to blame others where he himself fares ill; to blame himself is the part of one whose education has begun; to blame neither another nor his own self is the part of one whose education is already complete.

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5 — P.E. Matheson

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What disturbs men’s minds is not events but their judgements on events: For instance, death is nothing dreadful, or else Socrates would have thought it so. No, the only dreadful thing about it is men’s judgement that it is dreadful. And so when we are hindered, or disturbed, or distressed, let us never lay the blame on others, but on ourselves, that is, on our own judgements. To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education; to accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun; to accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.

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5 — George Long

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Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things: for example, death is nothing terrible, for if it were, it would have seemed so to Socrates; for the opinion about death, that it is terrible, is the terrible thing. When then, we are impeded or dis­turbed or grieved, let us never blame others, but ourselves, that is, our opinions. It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, neither to blame another, nor himself.

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5 — T.W. Rolleston

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It is not things in themselves, but the opinions held about them which trouble and confuse our minds. Thus, Death is not really terrible — if it were so it would have appeared so to Socrates— but the opinion about Death, that it is terrible, that it is wherein the terror lies. Wherefore when we are hindered, or confounded, or grieved, let us never cast the blame upon others, but upon our selves; that is, on our opinions of things. A man untaught in philosophy accuses others on the score of his misfortunes; he who has begun to be taught accuses himself; he who is fully taught, neither others nor himself.

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5 — T.W. Higginson

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Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things. Thus death is nothing terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death, that it is terrible. When, therefore, we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own views. It is the action of an uninstructed person to reproach others for his own misfortunes; of one entering upon instruction, to reproach himself; and of one perfectly instructed, to reproach neither others nor himself.

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5 — Elizabeth Carter

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Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself.

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5 — Epictetus

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Ταράσσει τοὺς ἀνθρώπους οὐ τὰ πράγματα, ἀλλὰ τὰ περὶ τῶν πραγμάτων δόγματα: οἷον ὁ θάνατος οὐδὲν δεινόν ἐπεὶ καὶ Σωκράτει ἂν ἐφαίνετο, ἀλλὰ τὸ δόγμα τὸ περὶ τοῦ θανάτου, διότι δεινόν, ἐκεῖνο τὸ δεινόν ἐστιν. ὅταν οὖν ἐμποδιζώμεθα ἢ ταρασσώμεθα ἢ λυπώμεθα, μηδέποτε ἄλλον αἰτιώμεθα, ἀλλ’ ἑαυτούς, τοῦτ’ ἔστι τὰ ἑαυτῶν δόγματα. ἀπαιδεύτου ἔργον τὸ ἄλλοις ἐγκαλεῖν, ἐφ’ οἷς αὐτὸς πράσσει κακῶς: ἠργμένου παιδεύεσθαι τὸ ἑαυτῷ: πεπαιδευμένου τὸ μήτε ἄλλῳ μήτε ἑαυτῷ.

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6 — Stephen Walton

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Don’t take pride in any merit that isn’t your own. If a car got excited and said, “I’m a great-looking car!” that might be acceptable, if only for its novelty value. But if you get excited and say “I have a great-looking car,” then you’re getting puffed up over merit that belongs only to the car.

What’s really yours, then? What you make of what happens in your life. And if you use events well, you can be proud – and you’ll be proud of something good that’s all yours.

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Be not elated at any excellence which is not your own. If the horse in his elation were to say, “I am beautiful,” it could be endured; but when you say in your elation, “I have a beautiful horse,” rest assured that you are elated at something good which belongs to a horse. What, then, is your own? The use of external impressions. Therefore, when you are in harmony with nature in the use of external impressions, then be elated; for then it will be some good of your own at which you will be elated.

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6 — P.E. Matheson

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Be not elated at an excellence which is not your own. If the horse in his pride were to say, ‘I am handsome’, we could bear with it. But when you say with pride, ‘I have a handsome horse’, know that the good horse is the ground of your pride. You ask then what you can call your own. The answer is—the way you deal with your impressions. Therefore when you deal with your impressions in accord with nature, then you may be proud indeed, for your pride will be in a good which is your own.

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6 — George Long

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Be not elated at any advantage (excellence), which belongs to another. If a horse when he is elated should say, I am beautiful, one might endure it. But when you are elated, and say, I have a beautiful horse, you must know that you are elated at having a good horse. What then is your own? The use of appearances. Consequently, when in the use of appearances you are conformable to nature, then be elated, for then you will be elated at something good which is your own.

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6 — T.W. Rolleston

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Be not puffed-up on account of any that is not of yourself. If your horse were proud and should say, I am beautiful, that would be tolerable. But when you are proud, and say, I have a beautiful horse, how that it is an excellence in your horse that you are proud of. What then is really your own? This, to make use of the phantasms. So that when you deal according to Nature in your use of the phantasms, then you may pride yourself, for then you will be priding yourself on an excellence which is really your own.

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6 — T.W. Higginson

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Be not elated at any excellence not your own. If a horse should be elated, and say, ” I am handsome,” it might be endurable. But when you are elated, and say, ” I have a handsome horse,” know that you are elated only on the merit of the horse. What then is your own? The use of the phenomena of existence. So that when you are in harmony with nature in this respect, you will be elated with some reason; for you will be elated at some good of your own.

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6 — Elizabeth Carter

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Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. If a horse should be prideful and say, ” I am handsome,” it would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, ” I have a handsome horse,” know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own? Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride in some good of your own.

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6 — Epictetus

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Ἐπὶ μηδενὶ ἐπαρθῇς ἀλλοτρίῳ προτερήματι. εἰ ὁ ἵππος ἐπαιρόμενος ἔλεγεν ὅτι «καλός εἰμι», οἰστὸν ἂν ἦν: σὺ δέ, ὅταν λέγῃς ἐπαιρόμενος ὅτι «ἵππον καλὸν ἔχω», ἴσθι, ὅτι ἐπὶ ἵππου ἀγαθῷ ἐπαίρῃ. τί οὖν ἐστι σόν; χρῆσις φαντασιῶν. ὥσθ’, ὅταν ἐν χρήσει φαντασιῶν κατὰ φύσιν σχῇς, τηνικαῦτα ἐπάρθητι: τότε γὰρ ἐπὶ σῷ τινι ἀγαθῷ ἐπαρθήσῃ.

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7 — Stephen Walton

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It’s like a short rest stop on a bus trip. You can get some food, use the bathroom or play some video games. But you’d better watch the time, and keep an ear on the public-address system, so that you don’t miss your departure. And if you have to leave a bowl of soup or a game unfinished, that’s the way it is.

Same way with life. Instead of a bowl of soup or a video game, you may have a spouse or a career – and no reason not to. But when that whistle blows, it’s back on the bus, and you’ll have to leave them behind without a second thought. But if you’re old, stay right by the bus.

Continue reading in the full Stephen Walton translation

Just as on a voyage, when your ship has anchored, if you should go on shore to get fresh water, you may pick up a small shell-fish or little bulb on the way, but you have to keep your attention fixed on the ship, and turn about frequently for fear lest the captain should call; and if he calls, you must give up all these things, if you would escape being thrown on board all tied up like the sheep. So it is also in life: If there be given you, instead of a little bulb and a small shell-fish, a little wife and child, there will be no objection to that; only, if the Captain calls, give up all these things and run to the ship, without even turning around to look back. And if you are an old man, never even get very far away from the ship, for fear that when He calls you may be missing.

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7 — P.E. Matheson

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When you are on a voyage, and your ship is at anchorage, and you disembark to get fresh water, you may pick up a small shellfish or a truffle by the way, but you must keep your attention fixed on the ship, and keep looking towards it constantly, to see if the Helmsman calls you; and if he does, you have to leave everything, or be bundled on board with your legs tied like a sheep. So it is in life. If you have a dear wife or child given you, they are like the shellfish or the truffle, they are very well in their way. Only, if the Helmsman call, run back to your ship, leave all else, and do not look behind you. And if you are old, never go far from the ship, so that when you are called you may not fail to appear.

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7 — George Long

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As on a voyage when the vessel has reached a port, if you go out to get water, it is an amusement by the way to pick up a shellfish or some bulb, but your thoughts ought to be directed to the ship, and you ought to be constantly watching if the captain should call, and then you must throw away all those things, that you may not be bound and pitched into the ship like sheep: so in life also, if there be given to you instead of a little bulb and a shell a wife and child, there will be nothing to prevent (you from taking them). But if the captain should call, run to the ship, and leave all those things without regard to them. But if you are old, do not even go far from the ship, lest when you are called you make default.

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7 — T.W. Rolleston

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Even as in a sea-voyage, when the ship is brought to anchor, and you go out to fetch in water, you make a bye-work of gathering a few roots and shells upon the way, but have need ever to keep your mind fixed upon the ship, and constantly to look round lest at any time the master of the ship should call, and must, if he call, cast away all those things, lest you be treated like the sheep that are bound and thrown into the hold: So it is with human life also, and nothing hinders the comparison if there be given wife and children instead of shells and roots. And if the master call, run to the ship, forsaking all those things and looking not behind. And if you be in old age, go not far from the ship at any time, lest the master should call, and you should not be ready.

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7 — T.W. Higginson

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As in a voyage, when the ship is at anchor, if you go on shore to get water, you may amuse yourself with picking up a shell-fish or a truffle in your way, but your thoughts ought to be bent towards the ship, and perpetually attentive, lest the captain should call, and then you must leave all these things, that you may not have to be carried on board the vessel, bound like a sheep; thus likewise in life, if, instead of a truffle or shell-fish, such a thing as a wife or a child be granted you, there is no objection; but if the captain calls, run to the ship, leave all these things, and never look behind. But if you are old, never go far from the ship, lest you should be missing when called for.

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7 — Elizabeth Carter

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Consider when, on a voyage, your ship is anchored; if you go on shore to get water you may along the way amuse yourself with picking up a shellish, or an onion. However, your thoughts and continual attention ought to be bent towards the ship, waiting for the captain to call on board; you must then immediately leave all these things, otherwise you will be thrown into the ship, bound neck and feet like a sheep. So it is with life. If, instead of an onion or a shellfish, you are given a wife or child, that is fine. But if the captain calls, you must run to the ship, leaving them, and regarding none of them. But if you are old, never go far from the ship: lest, when you are called, you should be unable to come in time.

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7 — Epictetus

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Καθάπερ ἐν πλῷ τοῦ πλοίου καθορμισθέντος εἰ ἐξέλθοις ὑθρεύσασθαι, ὁδοῦ μὲν πάρεργον καὶ κοχλίδιον ἀναλέξῃ καὶ βολβάριον, τετάσθαι δὲ δεῖ τὴν διάνοιαν ἐπὶ τὸ πλοῖον καὶ συνεχῶς ἐπιστρέφεσθαι, μή ποτε ὁ κυβερνήτης καλέσῃ, κἂν καλέσῃ, πάντα ἐκεῖνα ἀφιέναι, ἵνα μὴ δεδεμένος ἐμβληθῇς ὡς τὰ πρόβατα: οὕτω καὶ ἐν τῷ βίῳ, ἐὰν διδῶται ἀντὶ βολβαρίου καὶ κοχλιδίου γυναικάριον καὶ παιδίον, οὐδὲν κωλύσει: ἐὰν δὲ ὁ κυβερνήτης καλέσῃ, τρέχε ἐπὶ τὸ πλοῖον ἀφεὶς ἐκεῖνα ἅπαντα μηδὲ ἐπιστρεφόμενος. ἐὰν δὲ γέρων ᾖς, μηδὲ ἀπαλλαγῇς ποτε τοῦ πλοίου μακράν, μή ποτε καλοῦντος ἐλλίπῃς.

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8 — Stephen Walton

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Don’t demand your own way. Instead, want things to turn out the way they do turn out. Then you can relax.

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Do not seek to have everything that happens happen as you wish, but wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen, and your life will be serene.

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8 — P.E. Matheson

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Ask not that events should happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you shall have peace.

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8 — George Long

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Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life.

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8 — T.W. Rolleston

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Do not seek to have all things happen as you would choose them, but rather choose them to happen as they do; and so shall the current of your life flow free.

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8 — T.W. Higginson

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Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.

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8 — Elizabeth Carter

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Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.

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8 — Epictetus

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Μὴ ζήτει τὰ γινόμενα γίνεσθαι ὡς θέλεις, ἀλλὰ θέλε τὰ γινόμενα ὡς γίνεται καὶ εὐροήσεις.

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9 — Stephen Walton

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Sickness impedes the body, but not the will unless the will so chooses. Lameness impedes the leg, not the will. Say it to yourself whatever happens – it impedes something else, but not you.

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Disease is an impediment to the body, but not to the moral purpose, unless that consents. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the moral purpose. And say this to yourself at each thing that befalls you; for you will find the thing to be an impediment to something else, but not to yourself.

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9 — P.E. Matheson

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Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to the will, unless the will consent. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to the will. Say this to yourself at each event that happens, for you shall find that though it hinders something else it will not hinder you.

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9 — George Long

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Disease is an impediment to the body, but not to the will, unless the will itself chooses. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will. And add this reflection on the occasion of everything that happens; for you will find it an impediment to something else, but not to yourself.

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9 — T.W. Rolleston

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Disease is a hindrance of the body, not of the will, unless the will itself consent. Lameness is a hindrance of the leg, not of the will. And this you may say upon every occasion, for nothing can happen to you but you will find it a hindrance, not of yourself, but of some other thing.

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9 — T.W. Higginson

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Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the will, unless itself pleases. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will; and say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens. For you will find it to be an impediment to something else, but not truly to yourself.

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9 — Elizabeth Carter

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Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.

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9 — Epictetus

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Νόσος σώματός ἐστιν ἐμπόδιον, προαιρέσεως δὲ οὔ, ἐὰν μὴ αὐτὴ θέλῃ. χώλανσις σκέλους ἐστὶν ἐμπόδιον, προαιρέσεως δὲ οὔ. καὶ τοῦτο ἐφ’ ἑκάστου τῶν ἐμπιπτόντων ἐπίλεγε: εὑρήσεις γὰρ αὐτὸ ἄλλου τινὸς ἐμπόδιον, σὸν δὲ οὔ.

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10 — Stephen Walton

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Whatever happens, ask yourself how you can deal with it. If you see a sexy person, you can restrain lust. If you have heavy work to do, you can find stamina. If you’re insulted, you can exercise patience.

If you form good habits, you won’t be abducted by appearances.

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In the case of everything that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and see what faculty you have to deal with it. If you see a handsome lad or woman, you will find continence the faculty to employ here; if hard labour is laid upon you, you will find endurance; if reviling, you will find patience to bear evil. And if you habituate yourself in this fashion, your external impressions will not run away with you.

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10 — P.E. Matheson

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When anything happens to you, always remember to turn to yourself and ask what faculty you have to deal with it. If you see a beautiful boy or a beautiful woman, you will find continence the faculty to exercise there; if trouble is laid on you, you will find endurance; if ribaldry, you will find patience. And if you train yourself in this habit your impressions will not carry you away.

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10 — George Long

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On the occasion of every accident (event) that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use. If you see a fair man or a fair woman, you will find that the power to resist is temperance (continence). If labor (pain) be presented to you, you will find that it is endurance. If it be abusive words, you will find it to be patience. And if you have been thus formed to the (proper) habit, the appearances will not carry you along with them.

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10 — T.W. Rolleston

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Remember, at anything that shall befall you, to turn to yourself, and seek what faculty you possess for making use of it. If you see a beautiful person, you will find a faculty for that, namely, Self- mastery. If toil is laid upon you, you will find the faculty of Perseverance If you are reviled, you will find Patience, And making this your wont, you will not be rapt-away by the phantasms.

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10 — T.W. Higginson

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Upon every accident, remember to turn towards yourself and inquire what faculty you have for its use. If you encounter a handsome person, you will find continence the faculty needed; if pain, then fortitude; if reviling, then patience. And when thus habituated, the phenomena of existence will not overwhelm you.

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With every accident, ask yourself what abilities you have for making a proper use of it. If you see an attractive person, you will find that self-restraint is the ability you have against your desire. If you are in pain, you will find fortitude. If you hear unpleasant language, you will find patience. And thus habituated, the appearances of things will not hurry you away along with them.

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10 — Epictetus

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Ἐφ’ ἑκάστου τῶν προσπιπτόντων μέμνησο ἐπιστρέφων ἐπὶ σεαυτὸν ζητεῖν, τίνα δύναμιν ἔχεις πρὸς τὴν χρῆσιν αὐτοῦ. ἐὰν καλὸν ἴδῃς ἢ καλήν, εὑρήσεις δύναμιν πρὸς ταῦτα ἐγκράτειαν: ἐὰν πόνος προσφέρηται, εὑρήσεις καρτερίαν: ἂν λοιδορία, εὑρήσεις ἀνεξικακίαν. καὶ οὕτως ἐθιζόμενόν σε οὐ συναρπάσουσιν αἱ φαντασίαι.

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11 — Stephen Walton

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Never say you’ve lost anything, only that you’ve returned it. A dead child? Returned. A dead spouse? Returned. A home taken away? Returned, too. “But the people who took it away are no good!” It’s not your business what agents the original giver used to get it back. While he leaves things in your keeping, take care of them – not as your own, but the way a civilized traveler treats a hotel room.

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Never say about anything, “I have lost it,” but only “I have given it back.” Is your child dead? It has been given back. Is your wife dead? She has been given back. “I have had my farm taken away.” Very well, this too has been given back. “Yet it was a rascal who took it away.” But what concern is it of yours by whose instrumentality the Giver called for its return? So long as He gives it you, take care of it as of a thing that is not your own, as travellers treat their inn.

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11 — P.E. Matheson

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Never say of anything, ‘I lost it’, but say, ‘I gave it back’. Has your child died? It was given back. Has your wife died? She was given back. Has your estate been taken from you? Was not this also given back? But you say, ‘He who took it from me is wicked’. What does it matter to you through whom the Giver asked it back? As long as He gives it you, take care of it, but not as your own; treat it as passers-by treat an inn.

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11 — George Long

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Never say about anything, I have lost it, but say I have restored it. Is your child dead? It has been restored. Is your wife dead? She has been restored. Has your estate been taken from you? Has not then this also been restored? But he who has taken it from me is a bad man. But what is it to you, by whose hands the giver demanded it back? So long as he may allow you, take care of it as a thing which belongs to another, as travelers do with their inn.

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11 — T.W. Rolleston

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Never in any case say I have lost such a thing, but I have returned it. Is your child dead? it is a return. Is your wife dead? it is a return. Are you deprived of your estate? is not this also a return? But he who deprives me of it is wicked! But what is that to you, through whom the giver demands his own! As long therefore as he grants it to you, steward it like another’s property, as travelers use an inn.

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11 — T.W. Higginson

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Never say of anything, “I have lost it;” but, ” I have restored it.” Has your child died? It is restored. Has your wife died? She is restored. Has your estate been taken away? That likewise is restored. ” But it was a bad man who took it.” What is it to you by whose hands he who gave it has demanded it again? While he permits you to possess it, hold it as something not your own; as do travellers at an inn.

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Never say of anything, “I have lost it”; but, “I have returned it.” Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is not that likewise returned? “But he who took it away is a bad man.” What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care of it; but don’t view it as your own, just as travelers view a hotel.

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11 — Epictetus

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Μηδέποτε ἐπὶ μηδενὸς εἴπῃς ὅτι «ἀπώλεσα αὐτό», ἀλλ’ ὅτι «ἀπέδωκα». τὸ παιδίον ἀπέθανεν; ἀπεδόθη. ἡ γυνὴ ἀπέθανεν; ἀπεδόθη. «τὸ χωρίον ἀφῃρέθην». οὐκοῦν καὶ τοῦτο ἀπεδόθη. «ἀλλὰ κακὸς ὁ ἀφελόμενος». τί δὲ σοὶ μέλει, διὰ τίνος σε ὁ δοὺς ἀπῄτησε; μέχρι δ’ ἂν διδῷ, ὡς ἀλλοτρίου αὐτοῦ ἐπιμελοῦ, ὡς τοῦ πανδοχείου οἱ παριόντες.

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12 — Stephen Walton

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If you want to get better, give up thinking like this: “If I don’t take care of business, I won’t make a living.” “If I don’t reprimand my employee, he’ll be useless.” Because it’s better to starve while free from grief and fear than to live with abundance but be disturbed. Better your employee should be bad than you should be unhappy.

Start small. There’s minor breakage, or petty theft of paper clips? Say to yourself: “This is the price of not being disturbed, the price of tranquillity.” There’s no free lunch. So when you summon your subordinate, remember that he may not come, and if he does he still may not do what you want. But he’s not so powerful that your peace of mind depends on him.

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If you wish to make progress, dismiss all reasoning of this sort: “If I neglect my affairs, I shall have nothing to live on.” “If I do not punish my slave-boy he will turn out bad.” For it is better to die of hunger, but in a state of freedom from grief and fear, than to live in plenty, but troubled in mind. And it is better for your slave-boy to be bad than for you to be unhappy. Begin, therefore, with the little things. Your paltry oil gets spilled, your miserable wine stolen; say to yourself, “This is the price paid for a calm spirit, this the price for peace of mind.” Nothing is got without a price. And when you call your slave-boy, bear in mind that it is possible he may not heed you, and again, that even if he does heed, he may not do what you want done. But he is not in so happy a condition that your peace of mind depends upon him.

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12 — P.E. Matheson

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If you wish to make progress, abandon reasonings of this sort: ‘If I neglect my affairs I shall have nothing to live on’; ‘If I do not punish my son, he will be wicked.’ For it is better to die of hunger, so that you be free from pain and free from fear, than to live in plenty and be troubled in mind. It is better for your son to be wicked than for you to be miserable. Wherefore begin with little things. Is your drop of oil spilt? Is your sup of wine stolen? Say to yourself, ‘This is the price paid for freedom from passion, this is the price of a quiet mind.’ Nothing can be had without a price. When you call your slave-boy, reflect that he may not be able to hear you, and if he hears you, he may not be able to do anything you want. But he is not so well off that it rests with him to give you peace of mind.

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12 — George Long

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If you intend to improve, throw away such thoughts as these: if I neglect my affairs, I shall not have the means of living: unless I chastise my slave, he will be bad. For it is better to die of hunger and so to be released from grief and fear than to live in abundance with perturbation; and it is better for your slave to be bad than for you to be unhappy. Begin then from little things. Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion, at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquility, but nothing is got for nothing. And when you call your slave, consider that it is possible that he does not hear; and if he does hear, that he will do nothing which you wish. But matters are not so well with him, but altogether well with you, that it should be in his power for you to be not disturbed.

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12 — T.W. Rolleston

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If you wish to advance in philosophy you must dismiss such considerations as If I neglect my affairs, I shall not have wherewithal to support life. If I do not correct my servant, he will be good-for-nothing, For it is better to die of hunger, having lived without grief and fear, than to live with a troubled spirit amid abundance. And it is better to have a bad servant, than an afflicted mind.

Make a beginning then with small matters. Is a little of your oil spilt? or a little wine stolen? Then say to yourself For so much, tranquility of mind is bought, this is the price of peace. For nothing can be gained without paying for it, And when you call your servant, reflect that he may not hear you, or that hearing, he may not do your bidding. For him indeed that is not well, but for you it is altogether well that be have not the power to disturb your mind.

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12 — T.W. Higginson

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If you would improve, lay aside such reasonings as these: “If I neglect my affairs, I shall not have a maintenance; if I do not punish my servant, he will be good for nothing.” For it were better to die of hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with perturbation; and it is better that your servant should be bad than you unhappy.

Begin therefore with little things. Is a little oil spilt or a little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price paid for peace and tranquillity; and nothing is to be had for nothing.” And when you call your servant, consider that it is possible he may not come at your call; or, if he does, that he may not do what you wish. But it is not at all desirable for him, and very undesirable for you, that it should be in his power to cause you any disturbance.

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If you want to improve, reject such reasonings as these: “If I neglect my affairs, I’ll have no income; if I don’t correct my servant, he will be bad.” For it is better to die with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with perturbation; and it is better your servant should be bad, than you unhappy.

Begin therefore from little things. Is a little oil spilt? A little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price paid for apathy, for tranquillity, and nothing is to be had for nothing.” When you call your servant, it is possible that he may not come; or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But he is by no means of such importance that it should be in his power to give you any disturbance.

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12 — Epictetus

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Εἰ προκόψαι θέλεις, ἄφες τοὺς τοιούτους ἐπιλογισμούς. «ἐὰν ἀμελήσω τῶν ἐμῶν, οὐχ ἕξω διατροφάς»: «ἐὰν μὴ κολάσω τὸν παῖδα, πονηρὸς ἔσται». κρεῖσσον γὰρ λιμῷ ἀποθανεῖν ἄλυπον καὶ ἄφοβον γενόμενον ἢ ζῆν ἐν ἀφθόνοις ταρασσόμενον. κρεῖττον δὲ τὸν παῖδα κακὸν εἶναι ἢ σὲ κακοδαίμονα.

ἄρξαι τοιγαροῦν ἀπὸ τῶν σμικρῶν. ἐκχεῖται τὸ ἐλάδιον, κλέπτεται τὸ οἰνάριον: ἐπίλεγε ὅτι «τοσούτου πωλεῖται ἀπάθεια, τοσούτου ἀταραξία»: προῖκα δὲ οὐδὲν περιγίνεται. ὅταν δὲ καλῇς τὸν παῖδα, ἐνθυμοῦ, ὅτι δύναται μὴ ὑπακοῦσαι καὶ ὑπακούσας μηδὲν ποιῆσαι ὧν θέλεις: ἀλλ’ οὐχ οὕτως ἐστὶν αὐτῷ καλῶς, ἵνα ἐπ’ ἐκείνῳ ᾖ τὸ σὲ μὴ ταραχθῆναι.

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13 — Stephen Walton

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If you want to get better, let yourself seem foolish and uncaring about externals. Don’t try to seem knowledgeable. If anyone thinks you’re important, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s difficult to keep your will on track and simultaneously go after external things. Take care of one and you’ll surely neglect the other.

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If you wish to make progress, then be content to appear senseless and foolish in externals, do not make it your wish to give the appearance of knowing anything; and if some people think you to be an important personage, distrust yourself. For be assured that it is no easy matter to keep your moral purpose in a state of conformity with nature, and, at the same time, to keep externals; but the man who devotes his attention to one of these two things must inevitably neglect the other.

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13 — P.E. Matheson

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If you wish to make progress, you must be content in external matters to seem a fool and a simpleton; do not wish men to think you know anything, and if any should think you to be somebody, distrust yourself. For know that it is not easy to keep your will in accord with nature and at the same time keep outward things; if you attend to one you must needs neglect the other.

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13 — George Long

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If you would improve, submit to be considered without sense and foolish with respect to externals. Wish to be considered to know nothing: and if you shall seem to some to be a person of importance, distrust yourself. For you should know that it is not easy both to keep your will in a condition conformable to nature and (to secure) external things: but if a man is careful about the one, it is an absolute necessity that he will neglect the other.

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13 — T.W. Rolleston

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If you wish to advance, you must be content to let people think you senseless and distraught as regards external things. Wish not ever to seem wise, and if ever you shall find yourself account to be somebody, then mistrust yourself. For know that it is not an easy matter to make a choice that shall agree both with external things and with Nature, but it must needs be that he who is careful of the one shall neglect the other.

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13 — T.W. Higginson

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If you would improve, be content to be thought foolish and dull with regard to externals. Do not desire to be thought to know anything; and though you should appear to others to be somebody, distrust yourself. For be assured, it is not easy at once to keep your will in harmony with nature, and to secure externals; but while you are absorbed in the one, you must of necessity neglect the other.

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If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things. Don’t wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of necessity neglect the other.

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13 — Epictetus

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Εἰ προκόψαι θέλεις, ὑπόμεινον ἕνεκα τῶν ἐκτὸς ἀνόητος δόξας καὶ ἠλίθιος, μηδὲν βούλου δοκεῖν ἐπίστασθαι: κἂν δόξῃς τις εἶναί τισιν, ἀπίστει σεαυτῷ. ἴσθι γὰρ ὅτι οὐ ῥᾴδιον τὴν προαίρεσιν τὴν σεαυτοῦ κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν φυλάξαι καὶ τὰ ἐκτός, ἀλλὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου ἐπιμελούμενον τοῦ ἑτέρου ἀμελῆσαι πᾶσα ἀνάγκη.

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14 — Stephen Walton

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If you want your family and friends to live forever, you’re a fool, because you’re trying to control what you can’t, and insisting that what’s up to others be within your will. Likewise, if you want your subordinate to perform perfectly, you’re a fool, because you’re deciding that his attitudes must be subject to yours. If you want to avoid disappointment, that you can do. Pay attention to what’s really up to you. Your master is whoever controls the things you want, or want to avoid. If you want to be free, don’t wish for anything, or try to avoid anything, that others control; otherwise you’re a slave.

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If you make it your will that your children and your wife and your friends should live for ever, you are silly; for you are making it your will that things not under your control should be under your control, and that what is not your own should be your own. In the same way, too, if you make it your will that your slave-boy be free from faults, you are a fool; for you are making it your will that vice be not vice, but something else. If, however, it is your will not to fail in what you desire, this is in your power. Wherefore, exercise yourself in that which is in your power. Each man’s master is the person who has the authority over what the man wishes or does not wish, so as to secure it, or take it away. Whoever, therefore, wants to be free, let him neither wish for anything, nor avoid anything, that is under the control of others; or else he is necessarily a slave.

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14 — P.E. Matheson

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It is silly to want your children and your wife and your friends to live for ever, for that means that you want what is not in your control to be in your control, and what is not your own to be yours. In the same way if you want your servant to make no mistakes, you are a fool, for you want vice not to be vice but something different. But if you want not to be disappointed in your will to get, you can attain to that.

Exercise yourself then in what lies in your power. Each man’s master is the man who has authority over what he wishes or does not wish, to secure the one or to take away the other. Let him then who wishes to be free not wish for anything or avoid anything that depends on others; or else he is bound to be a slave.

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14 — George Long

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If you would have your children and your wife and your friends to live forever, you are silly; for you would have the things which are not in your power to be in your power, and the things which belong to others to be yours. So if you would have your slave to be free from faults, you are a fool; for you would have badness not to be badness, but something else. But if you wish not to fail in your desires, you are able to do that. Practice, then, this which you are able to do. He is the master of every man who has the power over the things, which another person wishes or does not wish, the power to confer them on him or to take them away. Whoever then wishes to be free, let him neither wish for anything nor avoid anything which depends on others: if he does not observe this rule, he must be a slave.

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14 — T.W. Rolleston

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You are quite astray if you desire your wife and children and friends to live for ever, for then you are desiring things that are not of yourself to be of yourself, and to control that which is not in your power. So also if you desire that your servant never should display any shortcomings, you are a fool; for that is as much as to desire that imperfection should not be imperfection, but something else. But If you wish never to fall short of your desires, this indeed is possible to you; this therefore practice, namely, the practicable.

You own a master when another has power over the things that are pleasing or displeasing to you, to give them or to take them away. Whosoever then would be free, let him neither desire nor shun any of the things that depend not upon himself; otherwise he must needs be enslaved.

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14 — T.W. Higginson

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If you wish your children and your wife and your friends to live forever, you are foolish; for you wish things to be in your power which are not so; and what belongs to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your servant to be without fault, you are foolish; for you wish vice not to be vice, but something else. But if you wish not to be disappointed in your desires, that is in your own power. Exercise, therefore, what is in your power. A man’s master is he who is able to confer or remove whatever that man seeks or shuns. Whoever then would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others; else he must necessarily be a slave.

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If you wish your children, and your wife, and your friends to live for ever, you are stupid; for you wish to be in control of things which you cannot, you wish for things that belong to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your servant to be without fault, you are a fool; for you wish vice not to be vice,” but something else. But, if you wish to have your desires undisappointed, this is in your own control. Exercise, therefore, what is in your control. He is the master of every other person who is able to confer or remove whatever that person wishes either to have or to avoid. Whoever, then, would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others else he must necessarily be a slave.

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14 — Epictetus

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Ἐὰν θέλῃς τὰ τέκνα σου καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τοὺς φίλους σου πάντοτε ζῆν, ἠλίθιος εἶ: τὰ γὰρ μὴ ἐπὶ σοὶ θέλεις ἐπὶ σοὶ εἶναι καὶ τὰ ἀλλότρια σὰ εἶναι. οὕτω κἂν τὸν παῖδα θέλῃς μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν, μωρὸς εἶ: θέλεις γὰρ τὴν κακίαν μὴ εἶναι κακίαν, ἀλλ’ ἄλλο τι. ἐὰν δὲ θέλῃς ὀρεγόμενος μὴ ἀποτυγχάνειν, τοῦτο δύνασαι. τοῦτο οὖν ἄσκει, ὃ δύνασαι.

κύριος ἑκάστου ἐστὶν ὁ τῶν ὑπ’ ἐκείνου θελομένων ἢ μὴ θελομένων ἔχων τὴν ἐξουσίαν εἰς τὸ περιποιῆσαι ἢ ἀφελέσθαι. ὅστις οὖν ἐλεύθερος εἶναι βούλεται, μήτε θελέτω τι μήτε φευγέτω τι τῶν ἐπ’ ἄλλοις: εἰ δὲ μή, δουλεύειν ἀνάγκη.

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15 — Stephen Walton

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It’s like a banquet, with dishes going around. If something tasty stops in front of you, take some if you want. If it hasn’t reached you yet, don’t grab for it. If it misses you entirely, don’t make a fuss.

Take the same attitude toward family, money and position. Partake of them as they come to you and there’s no blame. But if you scorn them when you could easily have them, that’s better – even divine. It’s for this behavior that Diogenes and Heraclitus were rightly called godlike.

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Remember that you ought to behave in life as you would at a banquet. As something is being passed around it comes to you; stretch out your hand and take a portion of it politely. It passes on; do not detain it. Or it has not come to you yet; do not project your desire to meet it, but wait until it comes in front of you. So act toward children, so toward a wife, so toward office, so toward wealth; and then some day you will be worthy of the banquets of the gods. But if you do not take these things even when they are set before you, but despise them, then you will not only share the banquet of the gods, but share also their rule. For it was by so doing that Diogenes and Heracleitus, and men like them, were deservedly divine and deservedly so called.

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15 — P.E. Matheson

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Remember that you must behave in life as you would at a banquet. A dish is handed round and comes to you; put out your hand and take it politely. It passes you; do not stop it. It has not reached you; do not be impatient to get it, but wait till your turn comes. Bear yourself thus towards children, wife, office, wealth, and one day you will be worthy to banquet with the gods. But if when they are set before you, you do not take them but despise them, then you shall not only share the gods’ banquet, but shall share their rule. For by so doing Diogenes and Heraclitus and men like them were called divine and deserved the name.

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15 — George Long

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Remember that in life you ought to behave as at a banquet. Suppose that something is carried round and is opposite to you. Stretch out your hand and take a portion with decency. Suppose that it passes by you. Do not detain it. Suppose that it is not yet come to you. Do not send your desire forward to it, but wait till it is opposite to you. Do so with respect to children, so with respect to a wife, so with respect to magisterial offices, so with respect to wealth, and you will be some time a worthy partner of the banquets of the gods. But if you take none of the things which are set before you, and even despise them, then you will be not only a fellow banqueter with the gods, but also a partner with them in power. For by acting thus Diogenes and Heraclitus and those like them were de­servedly divine, and were so called.

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15 — T.W. Rolleston

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Bear in mind that you should conduct yourself in life as at a feast. Is some dish brought to you? Then put forth your hand and help yourself in seemly fashion. Does it pass you by? Then do not hold it back. Has it not yet come to you? Then do not stretch out for it at a distance, but wait till it is at your hand. And thus doing with regard to children, and wife, and authority, and wealth, you will be a worthy guest at the table of the Gods, And if you even pass over things that are offered to you, and refuse to take of them, then you will not only share the banquet of the Gods, but also their dominion. For so doing, Diogenes and Heracleitus and such as they were rightly divine, as they were said to be.

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15 — T.W. Higginson

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Remember that you must behave as at a banquet. Is anything brought round to you? Put out your hand, and take a moderate share. Does it pass by you? Do not stop it. Is it not yet come? Do not yearn in desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you. So with regard to children, wife, office, riches; and you will some time or other be worthy to feast with the gods. And if you do not so much as take the things which are set before you, but are able even to forego them, then you will not only be worthy to feast with the gods, but to rule with them also. For, by thus doing, Diogenes and Heraclitus, and others like them, deservedly became divine, and were so recognized.

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Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you? Don’t stop it. Is it not yet come? Don’t stretch your desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you. Do this with regard to children, to a wife, to public posts, to riches, and you will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods. And if you don’t even take the things which are set before you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their empire. For, by doing this, Diogenes, Heraclitus and others like them, deservedly became, and were called, divine.

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15 — Epictetus

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Μέμνησο, ὅτι ὡς ἐν συμποσίῳ σε δεῖ ἀναστρέφεσθαι. περιφερόμενον γέγονέ τι κατὰ σέ: ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα κοσμίως μετάλαβε. παρέρχεται: μὴ κάτεχε. οὔπω ἥκει: μὴ ἐπίβαλλε πόῤῥω τὴν ὄρεξιν, ἀλλὰ περίμενε, μέχρις ἂν γένηται κατὰ σέ. οὕτω πρὸς τέκνα, οὕτω πρὸς γυναῖκα, οὕτω πρὸς ἀρχάς, οὕτω πρὸς πλοῦτον: καὶ ἔσῃ ποτὲ ἄξιος τῶν θεῶν συμπότης. ἂν δὲ καὶ παρατεθέντων σοι μὴ λάβῃς, ἀλλ’ ὑπερίδῃς, τότε οὐ μόνον συμπότης τῶν θεῶν ἔσῃ, ἀλλὰ καὶ συνάρχων. οὕτω γὰρ ποιῶν Διογένης καὶ Ἡράκλειτος καὶ οἱ ὅμοιοι ἀξίως θεῖοί τε ἦσαν καὶ ἐλέγοντο.

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16 — Stephen Walton

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When someone else is upset – problems with children, maybe, or a business difficulty – watch out that you don’t get upset too, by thinking that these events themselves are really evil. Remember that what bothers your friend isn’t these events themselves – since someone else would be completely unmoved by them – but the attitude she takes toward them, considering them so awful. Commiserate with her, of course. Even sigh or groan, if that’s what she’s doing. But don’t let yourself sigh or groan inwardly.

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When you see someone weeping in sorrow, either because a child has gone on a journey, or because he has lost his property, beware that you be not carried away by the impression that the man is in the midst of external ills, but straightway keep before you this thought: “It is not what has happened that distresses this man (for it does not distress another), but his judgement about it.” Do not, however, hesitate to sympathize with him so far as words go, and, if occasion offers, even to groan with him; but be careful not to groan also in the centre of your being.

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16 — P.E. Matheson

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When you see a man shedding tears in sorrow for a child abroad or dead, or for loss of property, beware that you are not carried away by the impression that it is outward ills that make him miserable. Keep this thought by you: ‘What distresses him is not the event, for that does not distress another, but his judgement on the event.’ Therefore do not hesitate to sympathize with him so far as words go, and if it so chance, even to groan with him; but take heed that you do not also groan in your inner being.

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16 — George Long

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When you see a person weeping in sorrow either when a child goes abroad or when he is dead, or when the man has lost his property, take care that the appearance do not hurry you away with it, as if he were suffering in external things. But straightway make a distinction in your own mind, and be in readiness to say, it is not that which has happened that afflicts this man, for it does not afflict another, but it is the opinion about this thing which afflicts the man. So far as words, then, do not be unwilling to show him sympathy, and even if it happens so, to lament with him. But take care that you do not lament internally also.

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16 — T.W. Rolleston

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When you shall see one lamenting in grief because his son is gone abroad, or because he has lost his wealth, see to it that you be not rapt-away by the phantasm, to think that he has suffered a real misfortune in external matters. But be the thought at hand, It is not the fact itself which afflicts this man—since there are others whom it afflicts not—but the opinion he has conceived about it. And do not hesitate as far as words go, to give him your sympathy, and even, if so it be, to lament with him. But take heed that your lamenting be not from within.

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16 — T.W. Higginson

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When you see any one weeping for grief, either that his son has gone abroad, or that he has suffered in his affairs, take care not to be overcome by the apparent evil; but discriminate, and be ready to say, “What hurts this man is not this occurrence itself,- for another man might not be hurt by it, - but the