Occasional reflections on the wisdom of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. More atmassimopigliucci.com. Please consider supporting Stoic Meditations. (cover art by Marek Škrabák; original music by Ian Jolin-Rasmussen, www.jolinras.info).
A plant or animal fares poorly when it acts contrary to its nature; and a human being is no different. Well, then, biting, kicking, wanton imprisonment and beheading–is that what our nature entails? No; rather, acts of kindness, cooperation and good will.
What makes for freedom and fluency in the practice of writing? Knowledge of how to write. The same goes for the practice of playing an instrument. It follows that, in the conduct of life, there must be a science to living well.
It is by no means desirable that one should merely strive to accumulate property without any love of virtue. Similarly, virtue placed in leisure without action is but an incomplete and feeble good thing, because she never displays what she has learned.
We have a habit of saying that the highest good is to live according to nature: now nature has produced us for both purposes, for contemplation and for action. … Nature has [also] bestowed upon us an inquiring disposition.
We are born by accident into a specific nation, but we naturally belong to the human cosmopolis. Reflecting on the nature of virtue and practicing it every day is one way to serve both our fellow citizens and humanity at large.
The duty of a human being is to be useful to his fellow human beings; if possible, to many of them; failing this, to a few; failing this, to oneself: for when we help others, we advance the general interests of humanity.
Would that all things were already known, that truth were unveiled and recognized, and that none of our doctrines required modification! but as it is we have to seek for truth in the company of the very men who teach it.
Our Stoic philosophers say we must be in motion up to the very end of our life, we will never cease to labour for the general good, to help individual people, and when stricken in years to afford assistance even to our enemies.
We oscillate between desire and remorse, for we depend entirely upon the opinions of others, and it is that which many people praise and seek after, not that which deserves to be praised and sought after, which we consider to be best.
When you are offended at any one’s fault, immediately turn to yourself and reflect in what manner you yourself have erred: for example, in thinking that money is a good thing, or pleasure, or a bit of reputation, and the like.
Consider what men are when they are eating, sleeping, coupling, evacuating, and so forth. Then what kind of men they are when they are imperious and arrogant, or angry and scolding from their elevated place.
Acquire the contemplative way of seeing how all things change into one another, and constantly attend to it, and exercise yourself about this part of philosophy. For nothing is so much adapted to produce magnanimity.
When you have assumed these names—good, modest, truthful, rational, a person of equanimity, and magnanimous—take care that you do not change these names; and if you should lose them, quickly return to them.
Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a system, let this first be established: that I am a part of the whole that is governed by nature; next, that I stand in some intimate connection with other kindred parts.