Then through madness is it possible for a man to be so disposed toward these things, and the Galilaens through habit, and is it possible that no man can learn from reason and from demonstration that God has made all the things in the universe and the universe itself completely free from hindrance and perfect, and the parts of it for the use of the whole? All other animals indeed are incapable of comprehending the administration of it; but the rational animal, man, has faculties for the consideration of all these and for understanding that it is a part, and what kind of a part it is, and that it is right for the parts to be subordinate to the whole. And besides this being naturally noble, magnanimous and free, man sees that of the things which surround him some are free from hindrance and in his power, and the other things are subject to hindrance and in the power of others; that the things which are free from hindrance are in the power of the will; and those which are subject to hinderance are the things which are not in the power of the will. And, for this reason, if he thinks that his good and his interest be in these things only which are free from hindrance and in his own power, he will be free, prosperous, happy, free from harm, magnanimous pious, thankful to God for all things; in no matter finding fault with any of the things which have not been put in his power, nor blaming any of them. But if he thinks that his good and his interest are in externals and in things which are not in the power of his will, he must of necessity be hindered, be impeded, be a slave to those who have the power over things which he admires and fears; and he must of necessity be impious because he thinks that he is harmed by God, and he must be unjust because he always claims more than belongs to him; and he must of necessity be abject and mean.
What hinders a man, who has clearly separated these things, from living with a light heart and bearing easily the reins, quietly expecting everything which can happen, and enduring that which has already happened? "Would you have me to bear poverty?" Come and you will know what poverty is when it has found one who can act well the part of a poor man. "Would you have me to possess power?" Let me have power, and also the trouble of it. "Well, banishment?" Wherever I shall go, there it will be well with me; for here also where I am, it was not because of the place that it was well with me, but because of my opinions which I shall carry off with me: for neither can any man deprive me of them; but my opinions alone are mine and they cannot he taken from me, and I am satisfied while I have them, wherever I may be and whatever I am doing. "But now it is time to die." Why do you say "to die"? Make no tragedy show of the thing, but speak of it as it is: it is now time for the matter to be resolved into the things out of which it was composed. And what is the formidable thing here? what is going to perish of the things which are in the universe? what new thing or wondrous is going to happen? Is it for this reason that a tyrant is formidable? Is it for this reason that the guards appear to have swords which are large and sharp? Say this to others; but I have considered about all these thins; no man has power over me. I have been made free; I know His commands, no man can now lead me as a slave. I have a proper person to assert my freedom; I have proper judges. Are you not the master of my body? What, then, is that to me? Are you not the master of my property? What, then, is that to me? Are you not the master of my exile or of my chains? Well, from all these things and all the poor body itself I depart at your bidding, when you please. Make trial of your power, and you will know how far it reaches.
Whom then can I still fear? Those who are over the bedchamber? Lest they should do, what? Shut me out? If they find that I wish to enter, let them shut me out. "Why, then, do you go to the doors?" Because I think it befits me, while the play lasts, to join in it. "How, then, are you not shut out?" Because, unless some one allows me to go in, I do not choose to ,o in, but am always content with that I which happens; for I think that what God chooses is better than what I choose. I will attach myself as a minister and follower to Him; I have the same movements as He has, I have the same desires; in a word, I have the same will. There is no shutting out for me, but for those who would force their in. Why, then, do not I force my way in? Because I know that nothing good is distributed within to those who enter. But when I hear any man called fortunate because he is honoured by Caesar, I say, "What does he happen to get?" A province. Does he also obtain an opinion such as he ought? The office of a Prefect. Does he also obtain the power of using his office well? Why do I still strive to enter? A man scatters dried figs and nuts: the children seize them and fight with one another; men do not, for they think them to be a small matter. But if a man should throw about shells, even the children do not seize them. Provinces are distributed: let children look to that. Money is distributed: let children look to that. Praetorships, consulships are distributed: let children scramble for them, let them be shut out, beaten, kiss the hands of the giver, of the slaves: but to me these are only dried figs and nuts. What then? If you fail to get them, while Caesar is scattering them about, do not be troubled: if a dried fig come into your lap, take it and eat it; for so far you may value even a fig. But if I shall stoop down and turn another over, or be turned over by another, and shall flatter those who have got into chamber, neither is a dried fig worth the trouble, nor anything else of the things which are not good, which the philosophers have persuaded me not to think good.
Show me the swords of the guards. "See how big they are, and how sharp." What, then, do these big and sharp swords do? "They kill." And what does a fever do? "Nothing else." And what else a tile? "Nothing else." Would you then have me to wonder at these things and worship them, and go about as the slave of all of them? I hope that this will not happen: but when I have once learned that everything which has come into existence must also go out of it, that the universe may not stand still nor be impeded, I no longer consider it any difference whether a fever shall do it, or a tile, or a soldier. But if a man must make a comparison between these things, I know that the soldier will do it with less trouble, and quicker. When, then, I neither fear anything which a tyrant can do to me, nor desire anything which he can give, why do I still look on with wonder? Why am I still confounded? Why do I fear the guards? Why am I pleased if he speaks to me in a friendly way, and receives me, and why do I tell others how he spoke to me? Is he a Socrates, is he a Diogenes that his praise should be a proof of what I am? Have I been eager to imitate his morals? But I keep up the play and go to him, and serve him so long as he does not bid me to do anything foolish or unreasonable. But if he says to me, "Go and bring Leon of Salamis," I say to him, "Seek another, for I am no longer playing." "Lead him away." I follow; that is part of the play. "But your head will be taken off." Does the tyrant's head always remain where it is, and the heads of you who obey him? "But you will be cast out unburied." If the corpse is I, I shall be cast out; but if I am different from the corpse, speak more properly according as the fact is, and do not think of frightening me. These things are formidable to children and fools. But if any man has once entered a philosopher's school and knows not what he is, he deserves to be full of fear and to flatter those whom afterward he used to flatter; if he has not yet learned that he is not flesh nor bones nor sinews, but he is that which makes use of these parts of the body and governs them and follows the appearances of things.
"Yes, but this talk makes us despise the laws." And what kind of talk makes men more obedient to the laws who employ such talk? And the things which are in the power of a fool are not law. And yet see how this talk makes us disposed as we ought to be even to these men; since it teaches us to claim in opposition to them none of the things in which they are able to surpass us. This talk teaches us, as to the body, to give it up, as to property, to give that up also, as to children, parents, brothers, to retire from these, to give up all; It only makes an exception of the opinions, which even Zeus has willed to be the select property of every man. What transgression of the laws is there here, what folly? Where you are superior and stronger, there I give way to you: on the other hand, where I am superior, do you yield to me; for I have studied this, and you have not. It is your study to live in houses with floors formed of various stones, how your slaves and dependents shall serve you, how you shall wear fine clothing, have many hunting men, lute players, and tragic actors. Do I claim any of these? have you made any study of opinions and of your own rational faculty? Do you know of what parts it is composed, how they are brought together, how they are connected, what powers it has, and of what kind? Why then are you vexed, if another, who has made it his study, has the advantage over you in these things? "But these things are the greatest." And who hinders you from being employed about these things and looking after them? And who has a better stock of books, of leisure, of persons to aid you? Only turn your mind at last to these things, attend, if it be only a short time, to your own ruling faculty: consider what this is that you possess, and whence it came, this which uses all others, and tries them, and selects and rejects. But so long as you employ yourself about externals you will possess them as no man else does; but you will have this such as you choose to have it, sordid and neglected.