CHAPTER 5

Against those who on account of sickness go away home
"I am sick here," said one of the pupils, "and I wish to return home." At home, I suppose, you free from sickness. Do you not consider whether you are doing, anything here which may be useful to the exercise of your will, that it may be corrected? For if you are doing nothing toward this end, it was to no purpose that you came. Go away. Look after your affairs at home. For if your ruling power cannot be maintained in a state conformable to nature, it is possible that your land can, that you will he able to increase your money, you will take care of your father in his old age, frequent the public place, hold magisterial office: being bad you will do badly anything else that you have to do. But if you understand yourself, and know that you are casting away certain bad opinions and adopting others in their place, and if you have changed your state of life from things which are not within your will to things which are within your will, and if you ever say, "Alas!" you are not saying what you say on account of your father, or your brother, but on account of yourself, do you still allege your sickness? Do you not know that both disease and death must surprise us while we are doing something? the husbandman while he is tilling the ground, the sailor while he is on his voyage? what would you be doing when death surprises you, for you must be surprised when you are doing something? If you can be doing anything better than this when you are surprised, do it. For I wish to be surprised by disease or death when I am looking after nothing else than my that may be free from perturbation, own will that I may be free from hindrance, free from compulsion, and in a state of liberty. I wish to be found practicing these things that I may be able to say to God, "Have I in any respect transgressed thy commands? have I in any respect wrongly used the powers which Thou gavest me? have I misused my perceptions or my preconceptions? have I ever blamed Thee? have I ever found fault with Thy administration? I have been sick, because it was Thy will, and so have others, but I was content to be sick. I have been poor because it was Thy will, but I was content also. I have not filled a magisterial office, because it was not Thy pleasure that I should: I have never desired it. Hast Thou ever seen me for this reason discontented? have I not always approached Thee with a cheerful countenance, ready to do Thy commands and to obey Thy signals? Is it now Thy will that I should depart from the assemblage of men? I depart. I give Thee all thanks that Thou hast allowed me to join in this Thy assemblage of men and to see Thy works, and to comprehend this Thy administration." May death surprise me while I am thinking of these things, while I am thus writing and reading.

"But my mother will not hold my head when I am sick." Go to your mother then; for you are a fit person to have your head held when you are sick. "But at home I used to lie down on a delicious bed." Go away to your bed: indeed you are fit to lie on such a bed even when you are in health: do not, then, lose what you can do there.

But what does Socrates say? "As one man," he says, "is pleased with improving his land, another with improving his horse, so I am daily pleased in observing that I am growing better." "Better in what? in using nice little words?" Man, do not say that. "In little matters of speculation?" What are you saying? "And indeed I do not see what else there is on which philosophers employ their time." Does it seem nothing to you to have never found fault with any person, neither with God nor man? to have blamed nobody? to carry the same face always in going out and coming in? This is what Socrates knew, and yet he never said that he knew anything or taught anything. But if any man asked for nice little words or little speculations, he would carry him to Protagoras or to Hippias; and if any man came to ask for pot-herbs, he would carry him to the gardener. Who then among you has this purpose? for if indeed you had it, you would both be content in sickness, and in hunger, and in death. If any among you has been in love with a charming girl, he knows that I say what is true.