• Copied!
  • Copied!

If religion towards the Gods, know that the principal element is to have right opinions about them, as existing, and as managing the Whole in fair order and justice; and then to set yourself to obey them, and to yield to them in all that happens and to follow it willingly, as accomplished under the highest counsels. For thus you will never at any time blame the Gods, nor accuse them of being neglectful.

But this can be done in no other way than by placing good and evil in the things that depend upon ourselves, and withdrawing them from those that do not; for if you take any of the latter things for good or evil, then when you fail to obtain what you desire, and fall into what you would avoid, it is inevitable that you must blame and hate those who caused you to do so.

For it is the inherent nature of every creature to fly from and shun all things that appear harmful, and the causes of the same, but to follow after and admire things, and the causes of things, which appear beneficial. It is impossible then that one who thinks himself harmed should take delight in that which seems to harm him, just as it is impossible that he should take delight in the very injury itself.

And thus it is that a father is reviled by his son when he will not give him a share of the things that are thought to be good. And it was this that set Polyneices and Eteocles at war with each other, the opinion, namely, that royalty was a good. And through this the Gods are blamed by the husband man and the sailor, by the merchant and by those who lose their wives or children. For when advantage is, there also is religion. So that he who is careful to desire and to dislike as he ought is careful at the same time of religion.

But it is right too that every man should pour libations, and offer sacrifices, and offer firstfruits according to the customs of his fathers, purely, and not supinely, nor negligently, nor indeed scantily, yet not beyond his means.

Continue reading