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Enchiridion

Enchiridion

Author: Epictetus
Rating: 9/10
Last Read: August 2016

Quick Summary:  This book has been on my reading list for years - and I'm sorry that I put it off so long.  I love the stoics, and have read Meditations and Seneca multiple times.  The Enchiridion is a short work, mostly full of short precepts instructing readers in the stoic style.  This book contains lots of useful thoughts to mull over and revisit throughout your life.

No man is free who is not master of himself.
 
Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.

My Highlights

In the Stoic view, our capacity to be happy is completely dependent on ourselves—how we treat ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we react to events in general. Events are good or bad only in terms of our reaction to them. --loc 30

The only thing we control is our will, and God has given us a will that cannot be influenced or thwarted by external events—unless we allow it. We are not responsible for the ideas or events that present themselves to us, but only for the ways in which we act on them. --loc 32

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. --loc 45

Straightway then practice saying to every harsh appearance,1 You are an appearance, and in no manner what you appear to be. --loc 56

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. --loc 64

Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinions about the things --loc 77

When then we are impeded or disturbed or grieved, let us never blame others, but ourselves, that is, our opinions. --loc 78

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. --loc 79

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. --loc 91

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. --loc 93

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. --loc 95

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. --loc 104

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. --loc 114

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. --loc 117

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. --loc 120

But you yourself will not wish to be a general or senator or consul, but a free man: and there is only one way to this, to despise (care not for) the things which are not in our power. --loc 141

Remember that it is not he who reviles you or strikes you, who insults you, but it is your opinion about these things as being insulting. When then a man irritates you, you must know that it is your own opinion which has irritated you. Therefore especially try not to be carried away by the appearance. For if you once gain time and delay, you will more easily master yourself. --loc 143

Let death and exile and every other thing which appears dreadful be daily before your eyes; but most of all death: and you will never think of anything mean nor will you desire anything extravagantly. --loc 147

If it should ever happen to you to be turned to externals in order to please some person, you must know that you have lost your purpose in life. Be satisfied then in everything with being a philosopher; and if you wish to seem also to any person to be a philosopher, appear so to yourself, and you will be able to do this. --loc 153

how will you be nobody nowhere, when you ought to be somebody in those things only which are in your power, in which indeed it is permitted to you to be a man of the greatest worth? --loc 159

If I can acquire money and also keep myself modest, and faithful and magnanimous, point out the way, and I will acquire it. But if you ask me to lose the things which are good and my own, in order that you may gain the things which are not good, see how unfair and silly you are. --loc 163

Besides, which would you rather have, money or a faithful and modest friend? For this end then rather help me to be such a man, and do not ask me to do this by which I shall lose that character. --loc 165

You must be one man, either good or bad. You must either cultivate your own ruling faculty, or external things; you must either exercise your skill on internal things or on external things; that is you must either maintain the position of a philosopher or that of a common person. --loc 213

Immediately prescribe some character and some form to yourself, which you shall observe both when you are alone and when you meet with --loc 250

And let silence be the general rule, or let only what is necessary be said, and in few words. And rarely and when the occasion calls we shall say something; but about none of the common subjects, nor about gladiators, nor horse-races, nor about athletes, nor about eating or drinking, which are the usual subjects; and especially not about men, as blaming them or praising them, or comparing them. If then you are able, bring over by your conversation the conversation of your associates to that which is proper; but if you should happen to be confined to the company of strangers, be silent. --loc 251

a man has reported to you, that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make any defense (answer) to what has been told you: but reply, The man did not know the rest of my faults, for he would not have mentioned these only. --loc 263

When you have decided that a thing ought to be done and are doing it, never avoid being seen doing it, though the many shall form an unfavorable opinion about it. For if it is not right to do it, avoid doing the thing; but if it is right, why are you afraid of those who shall find fault wrongly? --loc 288

In walking about as you take care not to step on a nail or to sprain your foot, so take care not to damage your own ruling faculty: and if we observe this rule in every act, we shall undertake the act with more security. --loc 297

When any person treats you ill or speaks ill of you, remember that he does this or says this because he thinks that it is his duty. It is not possible then for him to follow that which seems right to you, but that which seems right to himself. Accordingly if he is wrong in his opinion, he is the person who is hurt, for he is the person who has been deceived; for if a man shall suppose the true conjunction to be false, it is not the conjunction which is hindered, but the man who has been deceived about it. If you proceed then from these opinions, you will be mild in temper to him who reviles you: for say on each occasion, It seemed so to him. --loc 309

These reasonings do not cohere: I am richer than you, therefore I am better than you; I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better than you. On the contrary these rather cohere, I am richer than you, therefore my possessions are greater than yours: I am more eloquent than you, therefore my speech is superior to yours. But you are neither possession nor speech. --loc 317

For even sheep do not vomit up their grass and show to the shepherds how much they have eaten; but when they have internally digested the pasture, they produce externally wool and milk. Do you also show not your theorems to the uninstructed, but show the acts which come from their digestion. --loc 330

But when I shall have found the interpreter, the thing that remains is to use the precepts (the lessons). This itself is the only thing to be proud of. --loc 349

If you wish to be well spoken of, learn to speak well (of others): and when you have learned to speak well of them, try to act well, and so you will reap the fruit of being well spoken of. --loc 396

For no man is a slave who is free in his will. --loc 400

If you wish to live without perturbation and with pleasure, try to have all who dwell with you good. And you will have them good, if you instruct the willing, and dismiss those who are unwilling (to be taught): for there will fly away together with those who have fled away both wickedness and slavery; and there will be left with those who remain with you goodness and liberty. --loc 406

No man who loves money, and loves pleasure, and loves fame, also loves mankind, but only he who loves virtue. --loc 410

Examine yourself whether you wish to be rich or to be happy. If you wish to be rich, you should know that it is neither a good thing nor at all in your power: but if you wish to be happy, you should know that it is both a good thing and in your power, for the one is a temporary loan of fortune, and happiness comes from the will. --loc 427

It is not poverty which produces sorrow, but desire; nor does wealth release from fear, but reason (the power of reasoning). If then you acquire this power of reasoning, you will neither desire wealth nor complain of poverty. --loc 445

In banquets remember that you entertain two guests, body and soul: and whatever you shall have given to the body you soon eject: but what you shall have given to the soul, you keep always. --loc 463

It is better to live with one free man and to be without fear and free, than to be a slave with many. --loc 491

What you avoid suffering, do not attempt to make others suffer. You avoid slavery: take care that others are not your slaves. For if you endure to have a slave, you appear to be a slave yourself first. For vice has no community with virtue, nor freedom with slavery. --loc 492

As he who is in health would not choose to be served (ministered to) by the sick, nor for those who dwell with him to be sick, so neither would a free man endure to be served by slaves, or for those who live with him to be slaves. --loc 494

Instead of a herd of oxen, endeavor to assemble herds of friends in your house. --loc 506

As a wolf resembles a dog, so both a flatterer, and an adulterer and a parasite, resemble a friend. Take care then that instead of watch-dogs you do not without knowing it let in mischievous wolves. --loc 508

Do not give judgment in one court (of justice) before you have been tried yourself before justice. --loc 538

A man ought to know that it is not easy for him to have an opinion (or fixed principle), if he does not daily say the same things, and hear the same things, and at the same time apply them to life. --loc 562

Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope. --loc 601

When Thales was asked what is most universal, he answered, Hope, for hope stays with those who have nothing else. --loc 603

It is more necessary to heal the soul than the body, for to die is better than to live a bad life. --loc 605

When a man dies young, he blames the gods. When he is old and does not die, he blames the gods because he suffers when he ought to have already ceased from suffering. And nevertheless, when death approaches, he wishes to live, and sends to the physician and entreats him to omit no care or trouble. Wonderful, he said, are men, who are neither willing to live nor to die. --loc 616

Listen to those who wish to advise what is useful, but not to those who are eager to flatter on all occasions; for the first really see what is useful, but the second look to that which agrees with the opinion of those who possess power, and imitating the shadows of bodies they assent to what is said by the powerful. --loc 634

To admonish is better than to reproach: for admonition is mild and friendly, but reproach is harsh and insulting; and admonition corrects those who are doing wrong, but reproach only convicts them. --loc 639

A pirate had been cast on the land and was perishing through the tempest. A man took clothing and gave it to him, and brought the pirate into his house, and supplied him with everything else that was necessary. When the man was reproached by a person for doing kindness to the bad, he replied, I have shown this regard not to the man, but to mankind.43 --loc 642

No man is free who is not master of himself. --loc 651

As it is pleasant to see the sea from the land, so it is pleasant for him who has escaped from troubles to think of them. --loc 661

In prosperity it is very easy to find a friend; but in adversity it is most difficult of all things. --loc 669

Epictetus being asked how a man should give pain to his enemy answered, By preparing himself to live the best life that he can. --loc 673

Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress. --loc 699

Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant. --loc 710

You ought to choose both physician and friend not the most agreeable, but the most useful. --loc 725

If you wish to live a life free from sorrow, think of what is going to happen as if it had already happened. --loc 727

When a young man was boasting in the theater and saying, I am wise, for I have conversed with many wise men; Epictetus said, I also have conversed with many rich men, but I am not rich. --loc 749

Epictetus being asked, What man is rich, answered, He who is content (who has enough). --loc 753

Xanthippe was blaming Socrates, because he was making small preparation for receiving his friends: but Socrates said, If they are our friends, they will not care about it; and if they are not, we shall care nothing about them. --loc 754

Rules for a Knight

Rules for a Knight

air and light and time and space

air and light and time and space