Who would choose a life of the greatest wealth and abundance on condition of neither loving nor being loved by any creature?
That is the sort of life tyrants endure. They can count on no fidelity, no affection, no security in the goodwill of anyone. For them all is suspicion and anxiety; for them there is no possibility of a friendship. Who can love one whom he fears, or by whom he knows that he is feared?
Yet such men often have a show of friendship offered them, but it is only a fair-weather show. If it ever happen that they fall, as it frequently does, they will at once understand how friendless they are.
Tell me, Lydia, why strong Sybaris
Shuns the sun-drenched field of exercise,
Why he rides no more among his comrades,
Mastering his Gallic stallion with iron bit?
Why does he avoid the yellow Tiber’s foam,
Why does he neglect to oil his limbs
For the wrestling-ground,
Or show his arms bruised with weapon practice,
He who once threw the discus, the javelin,
Further than all?
Is this the work of love, Lydia,
Or just the work of your charms?
These reasonings are unconnected, though foolish people think them: ’I am richer than you, therefore I am better’; ‘I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better’.
The true connection is this: ‘I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours’; ‘I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours’.
But a human being, after all, is neither property nor style.
It is vain to comfort the grieving, for grief must have its fill.
Anyone can discourse for ever about the advantages of courage and determination, but instead of listening to discourses only, let us day by day fix our eyes on the good, until we become filled with the love of it. And then we will have helped fulfil the promise that lay in the victory of the Greeks over the Persians: to be free in honour, and wise in freedom.
If anyone should suppose a true proposition to be false, the proposition is not hurt, but he who is deceived about it.
In friendship, just as those who possess any superiority must put themselves on an equal footing with those who are less fortunate, so these latter must not be annoyed at being surpassed in genius, fortune, or rank.
Gold loves to go through gates and walls,
It defies armed guards and watchmen,
Money throws down gates, unbolts doors,
Brings battlements and fortifications crumbling down.
Bribes sink ships, win wars, unseat the mighty.
Worry and vexed ambition follow money,
Appetite for wealth grows hungrier with feeding.
Yet the more one denies oneself, the more one gains.
Unencumbered, I seek out the camps of those who desire nothing;
A deserter, I hasten away from the side of wealthy men,
Whose comparison makes me poor: for I am wealthy myself
In the absence of my wants,
Rich in already being satisfied.
I have a stream of clear water, a wood of a few acres,
My harvest and milch cows, and my bleating sheep;
Each morning I find eggs in the straw.
I expand my revenues by shrinking my desires,
And live emperor of my domain.
To injure the young to the sight of death, Lycurgus allowed the citizens to bury their dead within the city, so that their youth might be accustomed to such spectacles, and not be afraid to see a dead body, or fear to touch a corpse or to tread on a grave.
There are two ways of resolving disputes, the one by agreement, the other by contest; the first method is proper to mankind, the second to beasts. But because the first has frequently proved insufficient, men have often taken recourse to the second.
The wise say of things they have not heard, ‘I have not heard’, and of things they have not seen, ‘I have not seen’.
The good is that which lies within reach of our talents for good, which means that there are as many goods as there are such talents. There is not one single kind of good that suits and fits everyone; there are as many good lives as there are people to live them.
When you see anyone weeping in grief because his loved one has gone abroad, or is dead, or because he has suffered in his affairs, be careful that the appearance may not misdirect you.
Instead, distinguish within your own mind, and be prepared to say , ‘It’s not the accident that distresses this person, because it does not distress another person; it is the judgement he makes about it.’
It is our attitudes to things that give them their value, whether good or bad, or indifferent. Strengthen your mind to right attitudes, and you will live with fortitude and just measure.
The honourable man is he who honours others.