Ordain for yourself forthwith a certain principle and outline of conduct which you may observe both when you are alone and among men.
And for the most part keep silence, or speak only what is necessary, and in few words. But when occasion shall require us to speak, then we shall speak, but sparingly, and not about any subject at haphazard, nor about gladiators, nor horse races, nor athletes, nor about things to eat or drink, which one hears talked about everywhere, but especially not about men, as blaming, or praising, or comparing them.
If then you are able, let your discourse draw that of the company towards what is fitting; but if you find yourself apart among strangers, keep silence.
Do not laugh much, nor at many things, nor unrestrainedly.
Refuse altogether to take an oath, if possible; if not, then as much as circumstances permit.
Avoid banquets given by strangers and by the sensual. But if you ever have occasion to go to them, then keep your attention on the stretch that you do not fall into sensuality. For know that if your companion be corrupted, you, who have conversation with him, must needs become corrupted also, even though yourself should chance to be pure.
In things that concern the body, such as food, drink, clothing, habitation, servants, you must only accept what is absolutely needful. But all that makes for show or luxury, you must utterly proscribe.
Concerning sexual pleasures, it is right to be pure before marriage, as much as in you lies, But if you do indulge in them, let it be according to what is lawful. But do not in any case make yourself disagreeable to those who use such pleasures, nor be fond of reproving them, nor of putting yourself forward as not using them.
If you shall be informed that some one has been speaking ill of you, do not defend yourself against his accusations, but answer, He little knew what other vices there are in me, or he would have said more than that.
You need not go often to the arena; if how ever occasion should take you there, do not appear interested on any man’s side except your own; that is to say, desire that that only may happen which does happen, and that the conqueror may be be who wins; for so shall you not be embarrassed. But shouting, and laughter at this or that, and gesticulation, all this you must utterly abstain from. And after you have gone away, do not talk much over what has passed, so far as it does not tend towards your own improvement. For from that it would appear that you bad been impressed with the spectacle.
Do not attend everybody’s recitations nor be easily induced to go to them. But if you do go, preserve (yet without making yourself offensive) your gravity and tranquility.
When you are about to meet any person, especially if he be one of those considered to be high in rank, put before yourself what Socrates or Zeno would have done in such a case. And then you will not fail to deal fittingly with the occasion.
When you are going to see one of those who are great in power, imagine that you will not find him at home, that you will be shut out, that the doors will be banged in your face, that he will take no notice of you. And if in spite of these things it be right for you to go, then go, and bear whatever may happen, and never say to yourself I did not deserve such treatment. For that is sensual, and shows that you are subject to vexation from external things.
In company, be it far from you to bring your own doings and dangers constantly and disproportionately into notice. For though it is pleasant for you to tell of your own dangers, yet your adventures are not equally pleasant for other persons to hear.
Be it far from you to move laughter. For that habit easily slips into sensuality; and it is always enough to lower your neighbor’s respect for you.
And it is dangerous to approach to vicious conversation. Therefore when anything of the kind may arise, rebuke him who approaches thereto, if you can do so opportunely. But if not, show at least by your silence, and blushing, and serious looks that his words are disagreeable to you.