Further I do not know what to say to you: for if I say to you what I think, I shall offend you, and you will perhaps leave the school and not return to it: and if I do not say what I think, see how I shall be acting, if you come to me to be improved, and I shall not improve you at all, and if you come to me as to a philosopher, and I shall say nothing to you as a philosopher. And how cruel it is to you to leave you uncorrected. If at any time afterward you shall acquire sense, you will with good reason blame me and say, "What did Epictetus observe in me that, when he saw me in such a plight coming to him in such a scandalous condition, he neglected me and never said a word? did he so much despair of me? was I not young? was I not able to listen to reason? and how many other young men at this age commit many like errors? I hear that a certain Polemon from being a most dissolute youth underwent such a great change. Well, suppose that he did not think that I should be a Polemon; yet he might have set my hair right, he might have stripped off my decorations, he might have stopped me from plucking the hair out of my body; but when he saw me dressed like- what shall I say? he kept silent." I do not say like what; but you will say, when you come to your senses and shall know what it is and what persons use such a dress.
If you bring this charge against me hereafter, what defense shall I make? Why, shall I say that the man will not be persuaded by me? Was Laius persuaded by Apollo? Did he and get drunk and show no care for the oracle? Well then, for this reason did Apollo refuse to tell him the truth? I indeed do not know, whether you will be persuaded by me or not; but Apollo knew most certainly that Laius would not be persuaded and yet he spoke. But why did he speak? I say in reply: But why is he Apollo, and why does he deliver oracles, and why has he fixed himself in this place as a prophet and source of truth and for the inhabitants of the world to resort to him? and why are the words "Know yourself" written in front of the temple, though no person takes any notice of them?
Did Socrates persuade all his hearers to take care of themselves? Not the thousandth part. But, however, after he had been placed in this position by the deity, as he himself says, he never left it. But what does he say even to his judges? "If you acquit me on these conditions that I no longer do that which I do now, I will not consent and I will not desist; but I will go up both to young and to old, and, to speak plainly, to every man whom I meet, and I will ask the questions which I ask now; and most particularly will I do this to you my fellow-citizens, because you are more nearly related to me." Are you so curious, Socrates, and such a busybody? and how does it concern you how we act? and what is it that you say? "Being of the same community and of the same kin, you neglect yourself, and show yourself a bad citizen to the state, and a bad kinsman to your kinsmen, and a bad neighbor to your neighbors." "Who, then are you?" Here it is a great thing to say, "I am he whose duty it is to take care of men; for it is not every little heifer which dares to resist a lion; but if the bull comes up and resists him, say to the bull, if you choose, 'And who are you, and what business have you here?'" Man, in every kind there is produced something which excels; in oxen, in dogs, in bees, in horses. Do not then say to that which excels, "Who, then, are you?" If you do, it will find a voice in some way and say, "I am such a thing as the purple in a garment: do not expect me to be like the others, or blame my nature that it has made me different from the rest of men."
What then? am I such a man? Certainly not. And are you such a man as can listen to the truth? I wish you were. But however since in a manner I have been condemned to wear a white beard and a cloak, and you come to me as to a philosopher, I will not treat you in a cruel way nor yet as if I despaired of you, but I will say: Young man, whom do you wish to make beautiful? In the first place, know who you are and then adorn yourself appropriately. You are a human being; and this is a mortal animal which has the power of using appearances rationally. But what is meant by "rationally?" Conformably to nature and completely. What, then, do you possess which is peculiar? Is it the animal part? No. Is it the condition of mortality? No. Is it the power of using appearances? No. You possess the rational faculty as a peculiar thing: adorn and beautify this; but leave your hair to him who made it as he chose. Come, what other appellations have you? Are you man or woman? "Man." Adorn yourself then as man, not as woman. Woman is naturally smooth and delicate; and if she has much hair (on her body), she is a monster and is exhibited at Rome among monsters. And in a man it is monstrous not to have hair; and if he has no hair, he is a monster; but if he cuts off his hairs and plucks them out, what shall we do with him? where shall we exhibit him? and under what name shall we show him? "I will exhibit to you a man who chooses to be a woman rather than a man." What a terrible sight! There is no man who will not wonder at such a notice. Indeed I think that the men who pluck out their hairs do what they do without knowing what they do. Man what fault have you to find with your nature? That it made you a man? What then? was it fit that nature should make all human creatures women? and what advantage in that case would you have had in being adorned? for whom would you have adorned yourself, if all human creatures were women? But you are not pleased with the matter: set to work then upon the whole business. Take away- what is its name? that which is the cause of the hairs: make yourself a woman in all respects, that we may not be mistaken: do not make one half man, and the other half woman. Whom do you wish to please? The women?, Please them as a man. "Well; but they like smooth men." Will you not hang yourself? and if women took delight in catamites, would you become one? Is this your business? were you born for this purpose, that dissolute women should delight in you? Shall we make such a one as you a citizen of Corinth and perchance a prefect of the city, or chief of the youth, or general or superintendent of the games? Well, and when you have taken a wife, do you intend to have your hairs plucked out? To please whom and for what purpose? And when you have begotten children, will you introduce them also into the state with the habit of plucking their hairs? A beautiful citizen, and senator and rhetorician. We ought to pray that such young men be born among us and brought up.
Do not so, I entreat you by the Gods, young man: but when you have once heard these words, go away and say to yourself, "Epictetus has not said this to me; for how could he? but some propitious good through him: for it would never have come into his thoughts to say this, since he is not accustomed to talk thus with any person. Come then let us obey God, that we may not be subject to his anger." You say, "No." But, if a crow by his croaking signifies anything to you, it is not the crow which signifies, but God through the crow; and if he signifies anything through a human voice, will he not cause the man to say this to you, that you may know the power of the divinity, that he signifies to some in this way, and to others in that way, and concerning the greatest things and the chief he signifies through the noblest messenger? What else is it which the poet says:
For we ourselves have warned him, and have sentWas Hermes going to descend from heaven to say this to him? And now the Gods say this to you and send the messenger, the slayer of Argus, to warn you not to pervert that which is well arranged, nor to busy yourself about it, but to allow a man to be a man, and a woman to be a woman, a beautiful man to be as a beautiful man, and an ugly man as an ugly man, for you are not flesh and hair, but you are will; and if your will beautiful, then you will be beautiful. But up the present time I dare not tell you that you are ugly, for I think that you are readier to hear anything than this. But see what Socrates says to the most beautiful and blooming of men Alcibiades: "Try, then, to be beautiful." What does he say to him? "Dress your hair and pluck the hairs from your legs." Nothing of that kind. But "Adorn your will, take away bad opinions." "How with the body?" Leave it as it is by nature. Another has looked after these things: intrust them to him. "What then, must a man be uncleaned?" Certainly not; but what you are and are made by nature, cleanse this. A man should be cleanly as a man, a woman as a woman, a child as a child. You say no: but let us also pluck out the lion's mane, that he may not be uncleaned, and the cock's comb for he also ought to he cleaned. Granted, but as a cock, and the lion as a lion, and the hunting dog as a hunting dog.
Hermes the careful watcher, Argus' slayer,
The husband not to kill nor wed the wife.