The Roman Socrates
The Roman Socrates
According to Philostratus, writing a century and a half after the event, once when Musonius was lying chained in the prison of Nero, his friend the notorious Apollonius of Tyana secretly communicated with him, inquiring what he might do to help release him. Musonius’ reply was a brief acknowledgment of Apollonius’ thoughtfulness and a polite but firm refusal of assistance. Thereupon Apollonius answered in one terse sentence,
Socrates the Athenian refused to be released by his friends, and consequently went to trial and was put to death. To which. Musonius answered,
Socrates was put to death because he did not take the trouble to defend himself, but I intend to make my defense. Farewell. A generation later, Origen, in his apology for Christianity, the treatise Contra Celsum, named the two men who in the judgment of some people stood out as models of the highest type of life, the two saints, as it were, of the pagan world, Socrates and Musonius. In the fourth century, the emperor Julian wrote a letter to commend the high-priest Theodorus for his meretorious behavior when he was insolently abused by the governor of Greece. Among other compliments, he said that Theodorus’ complete lack of resentment was comparable to Socrates’ equanimity under an unjust condemnation, while his desire to aid the city where he had suffered could be compared to Musonius’ generous efforts in behalf of Gyara where he had been exiled.
In these three instances, the names of the Greek and the Roman philosophers are linked together as preeminent examples of men who professed the highest ethical standards and lived lives in harmony with their teachings. From these implied comparisons, given simply, without any explanatory material to lend them persuasive force, one may suspect that the comparison was not at all strained, but was in fact one which was current and familiar. And now, centuries later, when much of the material which might have made the comparison more obvious has been lost, a modern scholar does not hesitate to call Musonius
the Roman Socrates.
To us who might find it difficult to name a point in our lives when the name Socrates was new to us, and who have only a vague recollection of Musonius as one of the Stoic martyrs in the pages of Tacitus, the juxtaposition of the names may seem extravagant. The obscurity which has dimmed the name and reputation of Musonius is one of the unfortunate accidents of historical record, for even the extant testimonia of ancient writers, meager as they are, lead us to the conclusion that Musonius was a much more compelling personage than his surviving works permit us to suspect, in fact one of the most significant figures of his age. Although a professor of Stoic doctrine, Musonius was by no means restricted by sectarian boundaries; his teachings were his own humanitarian interpretation of the fundamental principles regulating human conduct, truly the fruit of a good life and the expression of a great personality. In the mere fact of standing forth as the spiritual and ethical leader and
apostle of moral liberty to his own and succeeding generations, Musonius is rightly compared to Socrates. But the exactness of the comparison becomes vivid and impressive when one notes how numerous are the points of similarity suggested by a consideration of the life of Musonius, his aims and methods, and the content arid temper of his teachings.
Perhaps the least significant, if the most definite, point of similarity is that, though both men spent their lives teaching, they were so indifferent to preserving their thoughts that they made little effort to commit them to writing. There is a legend of some γράμματα of Musonius, but it is almost as unfounded as the tale of Socrates’ writings. Apparently some contemporary record of his teachings was made, but the manner and instrument of that original recording and the subsequent transmission of his words is far from clear. The fragments which we have were preserved among the works of other authors and were not collected until 1822 when they were first brought together by the Dutch scholar, I. V. Peerlkamp. This small collection of discourses and sayings may be divided into two groups. The first group, representing the bulk of the work, consists of twenty-one moral discourses, conversations, or διατριβαί, which are preserved only in the anthologies of Stobaeus. For all those discourses except one, Stobaeus gives the title Μουσωνίου ἐκ του …, but the fifth discourse differs in having the title Λυκά ἐκ των Μουσωνίου … Yet the oneness of style and spirit, and the fact that all are assigned to Musonius have led scholars to consider all twenty-one essays as reports of his discourses made by one Lucius. The frequent recurrence of phrases like,
Such were the opinions Musonius expressed at that time make it evident that this Lucius was a pupil of Musonius, and one specific reference in which Musonius speaks as an exile to an exile reveals that Lucius too suffered during his teacher’s first banishment. Other than that it has been impossible to identify Lucius beyond saying that he was not the Lucius of Apuleius or Lucian or the commentator on the Categories of Aristotle from whom Simplicius freely borrowed. All of the discourses were probably published some time after Musonius’ death.
The second group of Musonius’ works is made up of a series of thirty-two short apothegms, precepts, and anecdotes preserved in Stobaeus, Epictetus, Aulus Gellius, and Aelius Aristides. These fragments fall rather naturally into several classes. Those preserved by Stobaeus are divided into two sets. The first set bear the heading Μουσωνίου and are in the form of aphorisms, precepts, and maxims, all of which might be called the dicta or memorable sayings of Musonius. The other five fragments given by Stobaeus are entitled ‘Ρούφου ἐκ του ’Eπικτήτου περὶ φιλίας. They are not found in Arrian’s discourses of Epictetus, though they report rather long quotations made from Musonius by Epictetus in a discourse on friendship. The two fragments preserved by Plutarch are short anecdotes which might be termed facta or remarkable doings of Musonius. Three excerpts from Aulus Gellius preserve memorable sayings and a fourth is long enough to represent a résumé of a whole discourse. There is one anecdote in Aelius Aristides. Epictetus relates half a dozen incidents about his teacher, Musonius. With the exception of these stories told by Epictetus, which have a freshness and unconventionality to stamp them as purely personal recollections, the fragments from περὶ φιλίας, and the long passage in Aulus Gellius, all these comparatively short fragments, being in the nature of facta and dicta of Musonius, might well have come from a collection of memorable sayings and deeds of the type commonly known as ἀπομνημονεύματα.
As it happens, there is some evidence of the existence at one time of such a book of reminiscences of Musonius. Among the literary works of Asinius Pollio, Suidas names ’Απομνημονεύματα Μουσωνίου του φιλοσόφου. Obviously Suidas confused two people of the name Pollio, for the well-known Asinius of the Augustan Age could not have lived long enough to be the author of reminiscences of Musonius. The majority of modern scholars are agreed that Valerius Pollio, a grammarian living in the time of Hadrian, was the person who made the collection, but the theory that it was Annius Pollio seems more plausible, since he belonged to a family which was close to Musonius. Annius was the husband of Servilia, daughter of Barea Soranus, and he was exiled at the time of the Pisonian conspiracy. Musonius’ loyal devotion to the family was demonstrated when he instigated proceedings against Egnatius Celer for his dastardly action in bearing false witness against Barea and so causing his condemnation. This man, being a contemporary of Musonius, would have been in a position to make notes of the talks of the philosopher. Then too, Annius would have a debt of gratitude to Musonius which he might well have been glad to repay by perpetuating his words in this way. Finally, the names Annius and Asinius could have become confused before Suidas’ time. This confusion seems easier to grant than that of Asinius with Valerius. Whoever the compiler may have been, only fragments of his work remain.
It would seem, then, that there were two compilations of the work of Musonius, one by Lucius and preserved in part in the discourses in Stobaeus, and the other by Pollio, the remains of which we have in the fragments collected from several sources and grouped together in the edition of Hense. There is a very remarkable difference in the pictures that these two early editors have succeeded in producing of the same man. Lucius is very consciously playing the role of Xenophon to his Socrates and so consistently transforming what must have been scenes of vivid discussion full of the rapid give and take of debate into rather conventionalized essays on ethical questions that the portrait of Musonius loses sharpness and vigor. Another factor which may be responsible for the diluted form in which we have Musonius’ conversations is the fact that they were written down many years after the event, so that they must have lost their original freshness in Lucius’ mind and Lucius himself had grown old and less vigorous. As a result, we get the impression of Musonius as a man who was good, to be sure, but mild and tolerant, and, in contrast with his pupil Epictetus, quite lacking in spirit. On the other hand, when one considers the fragments of Pollio, even from these disiecta membra a strong personality stands ‘forth, kindly but sharp, vivid and determined, a figure to admire and to follow.
Fortunately there is enough evidence relating to the life and accomplishments of Musonius to furnish a check against our deductions from his reported sayings, more than enough to make us discard Lucius’ gentle teacher for Pollio’s man of spirit and vigor. If we can trust Philostratus, there once existed a biography of Musonius which was, however, so carelessly done that Philostratus refrained from relating as much as he wished about Musonius lest he should seem to gloat over the careless author. In the absence of any real biographical record, the incomplete tale of Musonius’ life must be pieced together from heterogeneous sources of varying reliability. The main and important facts are too well authenticated to demand full discussion here. Briefly they are the following.
Caius Musonius Rufus, the son of Capito, was born of an Etruscan family in the town of Volsinii, probably sometime before 80 A. D. A member of the equestrian order and teacher of Stoic philosophy, he was at the height of his in:fl.uence in the time of Nero. He must have followed Rubellius Plautus when he was exiled to Syria in 62, for two years later when Nero ordered Rubellius’ execution, Musonius was with him and encouraged him to meet death bravely rather than to attempt resistance. Thus he identified himself with Nero’s political victims, and three years later, after the Pisonian conspiracy, he was himself banished by the emperor to the desolate, waterless island of Gyara in the Cyclades. This bleak spot not only failed to dishearten Musonius but it became at once the goal of a large group of young men who were attracted to the philosopher’s circle from all parts of the civilized world. In addition to his philosophical teaching, he proved a practical benefactor to the island by discovering a spring there. After the death of Nero he returned to Rome, presumably recalled by Galba. In that same trying year, in the last desperate days of Vitellius, when the armies of Vespasian under Antonius Primus and Petillius Cerealis, after having madly devastated Cremona, were raging to destroy Rome itself, Vitellius sent an embassy to each army to try to arrange a truce. Although Arulenus Rusticus who had been sent to Petillius' army had been wounded, Musonius joined the envoys to Antonius’ men and tried to talk reasonableness and peace to the frenzied soldiers, but almost lost his life for his pains. The following year, when Vespasian, established as emperor, was making an effort to restore the state, Musonius initiated legal proceedings against Publius Egnatius Celer for his false and treacherous accusation of the Stoic Barea Soranus whom Nero put to death in an effort, Tacitus says, to extinguish virtue itself. Celer was defended by Demetrius the Cynic, but lost his case and was executed. When Vespasian, at the instigation of Mucianus, banished all the philosophers in 71, Musonius was especially exempted by the emperor. Later, however, he was exiled under circumstances unknown to us and eventually was recalled by Titus who is said to have been his friend. Probably it was during this second banishment that Pliny met him in Syria where he was spending his year as military tribune. Pliny mentions the fact that Musonius might have chosen any one of a large group of admirers from all social classes for his son-in-law, and that the choice fell to the Stoic philosopher Artemidorus. It may have been on a visit to Greece at this time that Musonius made a vigorous protest to the Athenians against their practice of holding bloody gladiatorial games in the theater of Dionysus which had also to serve as the setting for religious festivals. His arguments met with such warm opposition that Musonius found it advisable to leave Athens. In the intervals of comparative quiet between political disturbances, he taught philosophy at Rome, apparently always conducting his discussions in Greek. His death may have occurred toward the end of the century, for Pliny, writing in 101 speaks as if he were no longer living. His family seems to have survived at least for several centuries. It was a descendant of his, Rufius Festus Avienus, who is honored by an inscription on a stone found in his native Volsinii. Also in the fourth century there is a memorial to a descendant, Rufinus, the talented son whom Himerius mourns in a touching eclogue. Two Greek inscriptions from the time of the Antonines honor one Γάιος Μουσώνιος ‘Ρουφος who may have been a grandson of the philosopher.
Musonius’ spiritual descendants, the pupils and friends who experienced some influence from his teachings in their lives and carried on his work, form a distinguished group. Rubellius Plautus, Barea Soranus, and Thrasea, all friends of Musonius to whom he seems to have acted as spiritual adviser, belong in tlte set of Stoic martyrs. In the circle of Pliny who was himself a professed admirer of Musonius, though too young to have been his pupil, was Musonius’ son-in-law Artemidorus whom Pliny considered the greatest of the philosophers of his day, and his old friend Fundanus whom Plutarch represents discussing the teachings of Musonius. Fronto names as pupils and followers of Musonius, Euphrates of Tyre, eloquent philosopher and teacher, Timocrates of Heracleia, sublime in thought and word, Athenodotus, the teacher of Fronto himself, and Dio of Prusa, the golden-tongued orator — all of whom achieved some success and fame in the field of philosophy. Of course the pupil whose fame has been the greatest and who seems to have been the truest interpreter of the spirit and intent of his master’s life and teaching was Epictetus. Finally, Lucius and probably Pollio are to be numbered in the group of Musonius’ hearers. Beyond Musonius’ immediate circle, Hierocles most effectively carried on his tradition of liberal Stoicism, and one of the great Christian apologists, Clement of Alexandria, adapted his teachings in his treatise on Christian education, the Paedagogus.
In general, the fabrication of apocryphal tales about a man’s career is a tribute to his fame. So, at any rate, one may judge to be the case of the fanciful stories about Musonius which were disseminated, for the most part, by Philostratus. There is the tale, already alluded to, of the imprisonment of Musonius and the secret exchange of letters with Apollonius of Tyana. Nero threw him into prison for the
crime of being a sage and caused him to be subjected to such cruel treatment that he would have died if it had not been for his rugged constitution. At another time, probably after this episode, when Musonius was forced into the unhappy situation of having to listen to Nero playing the lyre, he had the temerity to try to dissuade the emperor from his musical attempts. A dramatic incident of a meeting between Demetrius the Cynic and Musonius deserves to be told in Philostratus’ words. He says,
Demetrius said he happened to meet Musonius at the Isthmus, where he, in chains, was being forced to dig. He gave him what hope and encouragement he could under the circumstances, but Musonius grasped his spade and firmly thrust it into the ground, and proudly raising his head, said, The kernel of this story is used in a dialogue entitled Nero which was often included in the manuscripts of Lucian but is probably the work of Philostratus. In the dialogue Musonius is the chief speaker. He is answering some questions of Menecrates concerning Nero’s dramatic and musical talent and his performances in Greece, and explaining why, after all the talk about digging through the Isthmus of Corinth, the project was abandoned. Musonius gives the official explanation that some Egyptian surveyors convinced Nero that the sea was higher on one side than the other and that if a canal were dug, the land would be submerged, but offers as his own opinion that Nero was preoccupied with the activities of Vindex. His conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a ship bringing the welcome news of the end of Nero.
You are troubled to see me digging through the Isthmus for Greece, but if you saw me playing the harp like Nero, how would you feel then?
These lengendary accounts, emphasizing as they do the particular aspects of Musonius’ character and life which most forcibly struck the popular imagination, perform the important function of supporting the conclusions which one draws from the more strictly authentic sources and from autobiographical references in Musonius’ own works as recorded by his pupils. They do well to emphasize the fact that, unlike some philosophers, Musonius was no doctor umbraticus, but was rather a public figure, a conspicuous participant in civic affairs. His very prominence in public life, his active concern with the problems of his day, and his keen sense of duty to society necessarily made him an object of Nero’s persecution. The courage and spirit which he showed in this crisis in his life were the same high qualities which he demonstrated over and over again in the course of his varied career. Always consistent himself in facing life with courage, he constantly challenged his fellow men to be brave and strong. As a noble example of the good life, Musonius would be an outstanding character in any age; against the background of spiritual poverty and moral decay of his own generation, he appears a truly heroic figure. In his book on Roman Stoicism, Arnold says,
The influence of Musonius was so great that we may almost regard him as a third founder of the philosophy. The justification for this statement lies in the testimony of his contemporaries and successors, rather than in the extant reports of his pupil Lucius. Indeed Lucius made no attempt to delineate the philosophic system of his master or to set forth the fundamentals of Stoic dogma. He avoided reproducing the daily lessons which would consist of explanations of terminology, exercises in logic, and formal lectures on doctrine. Excluding systematic presentation and even technical language, he has reported only the informal discussions which must have been stimulated by the class exercises. Apparently these discussions or conversations were an important aspect of the teaching program of Musonius who placed the greatest emphasis upon the constant need for making practical application of theoretical principles.
For only in this way will philosophy be of profit to anyone, if to sound doctrine he adds conduct in harmony with it. So, in these conversations he spoke specifically and at length about a number of concrete ethical problems. Each discourse represents the answer to a direct question put to Musonius by one of his pupils about some moral problem. Musonius must have looked upon the performance of his pupils in these discussions of practical issues as the real testing of their achievement in philosophy.
The fact that Lucius, in preparing literary accounts of these conversations, has generally recast the dialogue into an essay has muffied the original tone of his teacher and caused his humor to vanish, but here and there one can still see traces of a fine irony in his manner of speaking. Though the accounts are necessarily abridged and one must imagine that Musonius used a great deal more in the way of questioning as he drew from his listeners the ideas he wished to convey, still Lucius gives a very clear impression of Musonius’ various methods of discussion. For example, he demonstrates his use of the inductive method in answering the question whether theory or practice is more effective. By the syllogistic method he proves to the entire satisfaction of the king of Syria who had asked the question that kings also should study philosophy. In the discourse entitled,
Must one obey one’s parents under all circumstances?, he undertakes to settle the problem by establishing definitions of the terms obedience and disobedience. Observing that his master was conducting these discussions in the manner of Socrates, Lucius appropriately adopted the style of Xenophon to report them.
It was a singular role that Musonius played in thus treating Stoic doctrine according to Socratic method. For the principles which he applied to the various ethical problems presented to him are indeed familiar Stoic tenets for which Musonius would claim no originality. As one would expect from the nature of the discussions, there is no treatment of physics, metaphysics, or logic, but the sole concern is with ethics. Musonius’ view of philosophy as the means to the attainment of the good life may be outlined very briefly. The primary concern of philosophy is the care of the soul in order that the qualities of prudence, temperance, justice, and courage may be perfected in it. This education should begin in infancy and continue throughout life, for every member of human society. Though we are all born with a capacity for virtue, from our surroundings we have become morally ill. It is philosophy alone which can cure us by its remedy of reason which teaches how to live in accord with nature so that we may develop the excellences which are peculiar to a human being. Of these virtues, prudence or understanding will enable a person to make correct judgments concerning all the phenomena which touch his life. By means of it he will realize that virtue is the only good and vice the only evil, that everything else is indifferent. Hence he will raise himself above all indifferent things and achieve inner freedom. Understanding the good, he will, of course, avoid all wrong and engage only in honorable action. Through temperance a man will so toughen his body and discipline his mind, that he will achieve mastery of himself. Both understanding and self-mastery are the means to the real end of philosophy which is to attain true happiness.
Such was the simple theme which Musonius chose to impress upon his pupils by stressing some aspect of it in every one of his conversations. His suggestions for the details of their physical existence are given in four discourses, somewhat different in treatment and temper from the others, on the elementary matters of food, clothing, and shelter. In them he advocates a rigorous austerity which seems closer to the Cynic than to the Stoic ideal. Apparently the intent of these discourses, unlike the others, is critical; certainly the tone verges on the satirical.
Completely opposed, however, to the Cynics’ diffident, not to say hostile attitude toward society, is Musonius’ active concern for his fellow-men. Indeed, Musonius’ contribution to ethical philosophy, and that a significant one, lies in the new spirit which he infused into the old Stoic concept of
humanitas. In his own personal relations, he reveals kindliness and warm human sympathy for human kind. In his teachings he emphasizes the necessity for sympathetic understanding in all human relationships. Although he makes no compromise with any deviation from the right, yet in dealing with wrong-doers he preaches forbearance and forgiveness. He insists that masters respect the essential human rights of their slaves. For women he claims the right to be judged by the same moral standards as men. He is one of the first to advocate contributing to the common good by devoting one’s resources to charity. These are details in the larger plan which Musonius keeps ever before his hearers, namely to prepare a social order wherein men may find a
benevolent and civilized way of life. Resting upon the integrity of the individual, the high moral and spiritual qualities of husband and wife in marriage, the deep loyalty of the family, the will to cooperate with one’s neighbor, and a concern for the welfare of one’s city, Musonius’ goal is to make men honorable and responsible citizens of the city of God. The high idealism, combined with the noble humanitarianism of his teachings, represents the greatest height Stoicism ever reached.
Once when discussion turned upon proofs or demonstrations, such as beginners must learn from their teachers of philosophy in gaining a mastery of whatever they are studying, Musonius said that there was no sense in seeking many proofs for each point, but rather cogent and lucid ones. Thus just as the physician who prescribes many drugs for his patients deserves less praise than the one who succeeds in helping them with a few, so the philosopher who teaches his pupils with the use of many proofs is less effective than the one who leads them to the desired goal with few. And the pupil too, the quicker his intelligence, the fewer proofs he will require, and the sooner he will assent to the conclusion of the argument in question, provided it be sound. But those who require proofs at every point, even where the matter is perfectly clear, or demand to have demonstrated at length things which could be explained briefly are completely inept and dull-witted.
The gods, we may assume, need no proof of anything inasmuch as nothing to them lacks clearness or is obscure, and it is only in reference to obscurity that there is any need of proof. Man, however, must needs seek to find out that which is not plain nor self-evident through the medium of the plain and obvious. That is the function of proof. Take for example the proposition that pleasure is not a good. At first sight we do not recognize it as true, since in fact pleasure appeals to us as a good. But starting from the generally accepted premise that every good is desirable and adding to it a second equally accepted that some pleasures are not desirable, we succeed in proving that pleasure is not a good: that is we prove the unknown or unrecognized by means of the known or recognized. Or again, that toil is not an evil is not on the face of it a persuasive proposition, while its opposite, that toil is an evil, seems much more persuasive. But starting from the known and accepted premise that every evil is a thing to be avoided, and adding to it another obvious one, namely that many forms of toil are not in the category of things to be avoided, we conclude that toil is not an evil. Since this, then, is the nature of proof, when we consider that some men are quicker of wit and others duller, that some are reared in better environment, others in worse, those of the latter class being inferior in character and native disposition will require more proofs and more diligent attention to be led to master the teachings in question and to be moulded by them; just as defective physiques, when the goal is to restore perfect health, require very diligent and prolonged treatment. On the other hand such pupils as are of a finer nature and have enjoyed better training will more easily and more quickly, and with few proofs, assent to sound reasoning and put it into practice. How true this is we may readily recognize if we chance to know two lads or young men, of whom one has been reared in luxury, his body effeminate, his spirit weakened by soft living, and having besides a dull and torpid disposition; the other reared somewhat in the Spartan manner, unaccustomed to luxury, practiced in self-restraint, and ready to listen to sound reasoning. If then we place these two young men in the position of pupils of a philosopher arguing that death, toil, poverty, and the like are not evils, or again that life, pleasure, wealth, and the like are not goods, do you imagine that both will give heed to the argument in the same fashion, and that one will be persuaded by it in the same degree as the other? Far from it. The one reluctantly and slowly, and fairly pried loose by a thousand arguments, will perhaps in the end give sign of assent — I mean of course the dullard. The other quickly and readily will accept the argument as cogent and relevant to himself, and will not require many proofs nor a fuller treatment. Was not just such a lad that Spartan boy who asked Cleanthes the philosopher if toil was not a good? He made it plain that he was so well-endowed by nature and by training for the practice of virtue as to consider toil closer to the nature of good than of evil, in that he asked whether toil was not perchance a good, as if it were conceded that it was not an evil. Thereupon Cleanthes in surprise and admiration of the boy replied,
Thou art of noble blood, dear child, so noble the words thou speakest. Can you doubt that such a lad would have been readily persuaded not to fear poverty nor death nor any of the things which seem terrible, and again, not to seek after wealth nor life nor pleasure?
To come back to the starting point of my discussion, I repeat that it is mistaken zeal for the teacher, if he be a true philosopher, to rehearse a multitude of arguments and proofs to his pupils. He should rather touch upon each one with just measure, seek to penetrate to the very intellect of his hearer, and present persuasive arguments and such as cannot easily be refuted. But most of all his treatment should consist in showing himself not only as one who utters words which are most helpful, but as one who acts consistently with them. As for the pupil, it is his duty to attend diligently to what is said and to be on his guard lest he accept unwittingly something false. But of what he accepts as truth, his effort should not be directed toward learning numbers of proofs — far from it — but only such as are plain and lucid. Finally whatever precepts enjoined upon him he is persuaded are true, these must he follow out in his daily life. For only in this way will philosophy be of profit to anyone, if to sound teaching he adds conduct in harmony with it.
All of us, he used to say, are so fashioned by nature that we can live our lives free from error and nobly; not that one can and another cannot, but all. The clearest evidence of this is the fact that lawgivers lay down for all alike what may be done and forbid what may not be done, exempting from punishment no one who disobeys or does wrong, not the young nor the old, not the strong nor the weak, not anyone whomsoever. And yet if the whole notion of virtue were something that came to us from without, and we shared no part of it by birth, just as in activities pertaining to the other arts no one who has not learned the art is expected to be free from error, so in like manner in things pertaining to the conduct of life it would not be reasonable to expect anyone to be free from error who had not learned virtue, seeing that virtue is the only thing that saves us from error in daily living. Now in the care of the sick we demand no one but the physician to be free from error, and in handling the lyre no one but the musician, and in managing the helm no one but the pilot, but in the conduct of life it is no longer only the philosopher whom we expect to be free from error, though he alone would seem to be the only one concerned with the study of virtue, but all men alike, including those who have never given any attention to virtue. Clearly, then, there is no explanation for this other than that the human being is born with an inclination toward virtue. And this indeed is strong evidence of the presence of goodness in our nature, that all speak of themselves as having virtue and being good. For take the common man; when asked whether he is stupid or intelligent, not one will confess to being stupid; or again, when asked whether he is just or unjust, not one will say that he is unjust. In the same way, if one asks him whether he is temperate or intemperate, he replies at once that he is temperate; and finally, if one asks whether he is good or bad, he would say that he is good, even though he can name no teacher of virtue or mention any study or practice of virtue he has ever made. Of what, then, is this evidence if not of the existence of an innate inclination of the human soul toward goodness and nobleness, and of the presence of the seeds of virtue in each one of us? Moreover, because it is entirely to our advantage to be good, some of us deceive ourselves into thinking that we are really good, while others of us are ashamed to admit that we are not. Why then pray, when one who has not learned letters or music or gymnastics never claims to have knowledge of these arts nor makes any pretense of knowing them, and is quite unable even to name a teacher to whom he went, why, I say, does everyone profess that he has virtue? It is because none of those other skills is natural to man, and no human being is born with a natural faculty [for them, whereas an inclination toward virtue is inborn in each one of us.]
When someone asked him if women too should study philosophy, he began to discourse on the theme that they should, in somewhat the following manner. Women as well as men, he said, have received from the gods the gift of reason, which we use in our dealings with one another and by which we judge whether a thing is good or bad, right or wrong. Likewise the female has the same senses as the male; namely sight, hearing, smell, and the others. Also both have the same parts of the body, and one has nothing more than the other. Moreover, not men alone, but women too, have a natural inclination toward virtue and the capacity for acquiring it, and it is the nature of women no less than men to be pleased by good and just acts and to reject the opposite of these. If this is true, by what reasoning would it ever be appropriate for men to search out and consider how they may lead good lives, which is exactly the study of philosophy, but inappropriate for women? Could it be that it is fitting for men to be good, but not for women? Let us examine in detail the qualities which are suitable for a woman who would lead a good life, for it will appear that each one of them would accrue to her most readily from the study of philosophy. In the first place, a woman must be a good housekeeper; that is a careful accountant of all that pertains to the welfare of her house and capable of directing the household slaves. It is my contention that these are the very qualities which would be present particularly in the woman who studies philosophy, since obviously each of them is a part of life, and philosophy is nothing other than knowledge about life, and the philosopher, as Socrates said, quoting Homer, is constantly engaged in investigating precisely this:
Whatsoever of good and of evil is wrought in thy halls. But above all a woman must be chaste and self-controlled; she must, I mean, be pure in respect of unlawful love, exercise restraint in other pleasures, not be a slave to desire, not be contentious, not lavish in expense, nor extravagant in dress. Such are the works of a virtuous woman, and to them I would add yet these: to control her temper, not to be overcome by grief, and to be superior to uncontrolled emotion of every kind. Now these are the things which the teachings of philosophy transmit, and the person who has learned them and practices them would seem to me to have become a well-ordered and seemly character, whether man or woman. Well then, so much for self-control. As for justice, would not the woman who studies philosophy be just, would she not be a blameless life-partner, would she not be a sympathetic help-mate, would she not be an untiring defender of husband and children, and would she not be entirely free of greed and arrogance? And who better than the woman trained in philosophy — and she certainly of necessity if she has really acquired philosophy — would be disposed to look upon doing a wrong as worse than suffering one (as much worse as it is the baser), and to regard being worsted as better than gaining an unjust advantage? Moreover, who better than she would love her children more than life itself? What woman would be more just than such a one? Now as for courage, certainly it is to be expected that the educated woman will be more courageous than the uneducated, and one who has studied philosophy than one who has not; and she will not therefore submit to anything shameful because of fear of death or unwillingness to face hardship, and she will not be intimidated by anyone because he is of noble birth, or powerful, or wealthy, no, not even if he be the tyrant of her city. For in fact she has schooled herself to be high-minded and to think of death not as an evil and life not as a good, and likewise not to shun hardship and never for a moment to seek ease and indolence. So it is that such a woman is likely to be energetic, strong to endure pain, prepared to nourish her children at her own breast, and to serve her husband with her own hands, and willing to do things which some would consider no better than slaves’ work. Would not such a woman be a great help to the man who married her, an ornament to her relatives, and a good example for all who know her? Yes, but I assure you, some will say, that women who associate with philosophers are bound to be arrogant for the most part and presumptuous, in that abandoning their own households and turning to the company of men they practice speeches, talk like sophists, and analyze syllogisms, when they ought to be sitting at home spinning. I should not expect the women who study philosophy to shirk their appointed tasks for mere talk any more than men, but I maintain that their discussions should be conducted for the sake of their practical application. For as there is no merit in the science of medicine unless it conduces to the healing of man’s body, so if a philosopher has or teaches reason, it is of no use if it does not contribute to the virtue of man’s soul. Above all, we ought to examine the doctrine which we think women who study philosophy ought to follow; we ought to see if the study which presents modesty as the greatest good can make them presumptuous, if the study which is a guide to the greatest self-restraint accustoms them to live heedlessly, if what sets forth intemperance as the greatest evil does not teach self-control, if what represents the management of a household as a virtue does not impel them to manage well their homes. Finally, the teachings of philosophy exhort the woman to be content with her lot and to work with her own hands.
Once when the question arose as to whether or not sons and daughters ought to be given the same education, he remarked that trainers of horses and dogs make no distinction in the training of the male and the female; for female dogs are taught to hunt just as the males are, and one can see no difference in the training of mares, if they are expected to do a horse’s work, and the training of stallions. In the case of man, however, it would seem to be felt necessary to employ some special and exceptional training and education for males over females, as if it were not essential that the same virtues should be present in both alike, in man and woman, or as if it were possible to arrive at the same virtues, not through the same, but through different instruction. And yet that there is not one set of virtues for a man and another for a woman is easy to perceive. In the first place, a man must have understanding and so must a woman, or what pray would be the use of a foolish man or woman? Then it is essential for one no less than the other to live justly, since the man who is not just would not be a good citizen, and the woman would not manage her household well if she did not do it justly; but if she is unjust she will wrong her husband like Eriphyle in the story. Again, it is recognized as right for a woman in wedlock to be chaste, and so is it likewise for a man; the law, at all events, decrees the same punishment for committing adultery as for being taken in adultery. Gluttony, drunkenness, and other related vices, which are vices of excess and bring disgrace upon those guilty of them, show that self-control is most necessary for every human being, male and female alike; for the only way of escape from wantonness is through self-control; there is no other. Perhaps someone may say that courage is a virtue appropriate to men only. That is not so. For a woman too of the right sort must have courage and be wholly free of cowardice, so that she will neither be swayed by hardships nor by fear; otherwise, how will she be said to have self-control, if by threat or force she can be constrained to yield to shame? Nay more, it is necessary for women to be able to repel attack, unless indeed they are willing to appear more cowardly than hens and other female birds which fight with creatures much larger than themselves to defend their young. How then should women not need courage? That women have some prowess in arms the race of the Amazons demonstrated when they defeated many tribes in war. If, therefore, something of this courage is lacking in other women, it is due to lack of use and practice rather than because they were not endowed with it. If then men and women are born with the same virtues, the same type of training and education must, of necessity, befit both men and women. For with every animal and plant whatsoever, proper care must be bestowed upon it to produce the excellence appropriate to it. Is it not true that, if it were necessary under like circumstances for a man and a woman to be able to play the flute, and if, furthermore, both had to do so in order to earn a living, we should give them both exactly the same thorough training in flute playing; and similarly if it were necessary for either to play the harp? Well then, if it is necessary for both to be proficient in the virtue which is appropriate to a human being, that is for both to be able to have understanding, and self-control, and courage, and justice, the one no less than the other, shall we not teach them both alike the art by which a human being becomes good? Yes, certainly we must do that and nothing else.
Come now, I suppose someone will say,
do you expect that men should learn spinning the same as women, and that women should take part in gymnastic exercises the same as men? No, that I should not demand. But I do say that, since in the human race man’s constitution is stronger and woman’s weaker, tasks should be assigned which are suited to the nature of each; that is the heavier tasks should be given to the stronger and lighter ones to the weaker. Thus spinning and indoor work would be more fitting for women than for men, while gymnastics and outdoor work would be more suitable for men. Occasionally, however, some men might more fittingly handle certain of the lighter tasks and what is generally considered women’s work, and again, women might do heavier tasks which seem more appropriate for men whenever conditions of strength, need, or circumstance warranted. For all human tasks, I am inclined to believe, are a common obligation and are common for men and women, and none is necessarily appointed for either one exclusively, but some pursuits are more suited to the nature of one, some to the other, and for this reason some are called men’s work and some women’s. But whatever things have reference to virtue, these one would properly say are equally appropriate to the nature of both, inasmuch as we agree that virtues are in no respect more fitting for the one than the other. Hence I hold it reasonable that the things which have reference to virtue ought to be taught to male and female alike; and furthermore that straight from infancy they ought to be taught that this is right and that is wrong, and that it is the same for both alike; that this is helpful, that is harmful, that one must do this, one must not do that. From this training understanding is developed in those who learn, boys and girls alike, with no difference. Then they must be inspired with a feeling of shame toward all that is base. When these two qualities have been created within them, man and woman are of necessity self-controlled. And most of all the child who is trained properly, whether boy or girl, must be accustomed to endure hardship, not to fear death, not to be disheartened in the face of any misfortune; he must in short be accustomed to every situation which calls for courage. Now courage, it was demonstrated above, should be present in women too. Furthermore to shun selfishness and to have high regard for fairness and, being a human being, to wish to help and to be unwilling to harm one’s fellow men is the noblest lesson, and it makes those who learn it just. What reason is there why it is more appropriate for a man to learn this? Certainly if it is fitting for women to be just, it is necessary for both to learn the same lessons which are in the highest degree appropriate to the character of each and supremely important. If it happens that a man knows a little something about a certain skill and a woman not, or again she knows something and he not, that suggests no difference in the education of either. But about the all-important things let not one know and the other not, but let them know the same things. If you ask me what doctrine produces such an education, I shall reply that as without philosophy no man would be properly educated, so no woman would be. I do not mean that women should possess technical skill and acuteness in argument. It would be quite superfluous, since they will use philosophy for the ends of their life as women. Even in men I do not prize this accomplishment too highly. I only urge that they should acquire from philosophy goodness in conduct and nobility of character. Now in very truth philosophy is training in nobility of character and nothing else.
At another time the problem arose among us whether for the acquisition of virtue practice or theory is more effective, understanding that theory teaches what is right conduct, while practice represents the habit of those accustomed to act in accordance with such theory. To Musonius, practice seemed to be more effective, and speaking in support of his opinion, he asked one of those present the following question:
Suppose that there are two physicians, one able to discourse very brilliantly about the art of medicine but having no experience in taking care of the sick, and the other quite incapable of speaking but experienced in treating his patients according to correct medical theory. Which one, he asked,
would you choose to attend you if you were ill? He replied that he would choose the doctor who had experience in healing. Musonius then continued,
Well, then, let us take another example of two men. One has sailed a great deal and served as pilot on many boats, the other one has sailed very little and has never acted as pilot. If the one who had never piloted a ship should speak most ably on the methods of navigation, and the other very poorly and ineffectively, which one would you employ as pilot if you were going on a voyage? The man said he would take the experienced pilot. Again Musonius said,
Take the case of two musicians. One knows the theory of music and discourses on it most convincingly but is unable to sing or play the harp or the lyre; the other is inferior in theory but is proficient in playing the harp and the lyre and in singing as well. To which one would you give a position as musician, or which one would you like to have as teacher for a child who does not know music? The man answered that he would choose the one who was skilled in practice.
Well, then, said Musonius,
that being the case, in the matter of temperance and self-control, is it not much better to be self-controlled and temperate in all one’s actions than to be able to say what one ought to do? Here too the young man agreed that it is of less significance and importance to speak well about self-control than to practice self-control. Thereupon Musonius, drawing together what had been said, asked,
How, now, in view of these conclusions, could knowledge of the theory of anything be better than becoming accustomed to act according to the principles of the theory, if we understand that application enables one to act, but theory makes one capable of speaking about it? Theory which teaches how one should act is related to application, and comes first, since it is not possible to do anything really well unless its practical execution be in harmony with theory. In effectiveness, however, practice takes precedence over theory as being more influential in leading men to action.
He was always earnestly urging those who were associated with him to make practical application of his teachings, using some such arguments as the following. Virtue, he said, is not simply theoretical knowledge, but it is practical application as well, just like the arts of medicine and music. Therefore, as the physician and the musician not only must master the theoretical side of their respective arts but must also train themselves to act according to their principles, so a man who wishes to become good not only must be thoroughly familiar with the precepts which are conducive to virtue but must also be earnest and jealous in applying these principles. How, indeed, could a person immediately become temperate if he only knew that one must not be overcome by pleasures, but was quite unpracticed in withstanding pleasures? How could one become just when he had learned that one must love fairness but had never exercised himself in avoidance of selfishness and greed? How could we acquire courage if we had merely learned that the things which seem dreadful to the average person are not to be feared, but had no experience in showing courage in the face of such things? How could we become prudent if we had come to recognize what things are truly good and what evil, but had never had practice in despising things which only seem good? Therefore upon the learning of the lessons appropriate to each and every excellence, practical training must follow invariably, if indeed from the lessons we have learned we hope to derive any benefit. And moreover such practical exercise is the more important for the student of philosophy than for the student of medicine or any similar art, the more philosophy claims to be a greater and more difficult discipline than any other. study. The reason for this is that men who enter the other professions have not had their souls corrupted beforehand and have not learned the opposite of what they are going to be taught, but the ones who start out to study philosophy have been born and reared in an environment filled with corruption and evil, and therefore turn to virtue in such a state that they need a longer and more thorough training. How, then, and in what manner should they receive such training? Since it so happens that the human being is not soul alone, nor body alone, but a kind of synthesis of the two, the person in training must take care of both, the better part, the soul, more zealously, as is fitting, but also of the other, if he shall not be found lacking in any part that constitutes man. For obviously the philosopher’s body should be well prepared for physical activity, because often the virtues make use of this as a necessary instrument for the affairs of life. Now there are two kinds of training, one which is appropriate for the soul alone, and the other which is common to both soul and body. We use the training common to both when we discipline ourselves to cold, heat, thirst, hunger, meager rations, hard beds, avoidance of pleasures, and patience under suffering. For by these things and others like them the body is strengthened and becomes capable of enduring hardship, sturdy and ready for any task; the soul too is strengthened since it is trained for courage by patience under hardship and for self-control by abstinence from pleasures. Training which js peculiar to the soul consists first of all in seeing that the proofs pertaining to apparent goods as not being real goods are always ready at hand and likewise those pertaining to apparent evils as not being real evils, and in learning to recognize the things which are truly good and in becoming accustomed to distinguish them from what are not truly good. In the next place it consists of practice in not avoiding any of the things which only seem evil, and in not pursuing any of the things which only seem good; in shunning by every means those which are truly evil and in pursuing by every means those which are truly good.
In summary, then, I have tried to tell what the nature of each type of training is. I shall not, however, endeavor to discuss how the training should be carried out in detail, by analyzing and distinguishing what is appropriate for the soul and the body in common and what is appropriate for the soul alone, but by presenting without fixed order what is proper for each. It is true that all of us who have participated in philosophic discussion have heard and apprehended that neither pain nor death nor poverty nor anything else which is free from wrong is an evil, and again that wealth, life, pleasure, or anything else which does not partake of virtue is not a good. And yet, in spite of understanding this, because of the depravity which has become implanted in us straight from childhood and because of evil habits engendered by this depravity, when hardship comes we think an evil has come upon us, and when pleasure comes our way we think that a good has befallen us; we dread death as the most extreme misfortune; we cling to life as the greatest blessing, and when we give away money we grieve as if we were injured, but upon receiving it we rejoice as if a benefit had been conferred. Similarly with the majority of other things, we do not meet circumstances in accordance with right principles, but rather we follow wretched habit. Since, then, I repeat, all this is the case, the person who is in training must strive to habituate himself not to love pleasure, not to avoid hardship, not to be infatuated with living, not to fear death, and in the case of goods or money not to place receiving above giving.
In order to support more easily and more cheerfully those hardships which we may expect to suffer in behalf of virtue and goodness, it is useful to recall what hardships people will endure for unworthy ends. Thus for example consider what intemperate lovers undergo for the sake of evil desires, and how much exertion others expend for the sake of making profit, and how much suffering those who are pursuing fame endure, and bear in mind that all of these people submit to all kinds of toil and hardship voluntarily. Is it not then monstrous that they for no honorable reward endure such things, while we for the sake of the ideal good — that is not only the avoidance of evil such as wrecks our lives, but also the acquisition of virtue, which we may call the provider of all goods — are not ready to bear every hardship? And yet would not anyone admit how much better it is, in place of exerting oneself to win someone else’s wife, to exert oneself to discipline one’s desires; in place of enduring hardships for the sake of money, to train oneself to want little; instead of giving oneself trouble about getting notoriety, to give oneself trouble how not to thirst for notoriety; instead of trying to find a way to injure an envied person, to inquire how not to envy anyone; and instead of slaving, as sycophants do, to win false friends, to undergo suffering in order to possess true friends? Now, since, in general, toil and hardship are a necessity for all men, both for those who seek the better ends and for those who seek the worse, it is preposterous that those who are pursuing the better are not much more eager in their efforts than those for whom there is small hope of reward for all their pains. Yet when we see acrobats face without concern their difficult tasks and risk their very lives in performing them, turning somersaults over up-turned swords or walking ropes set at a great height or flying through the air like birds, where one misstep means death, all of which they do for a miserably small recompense, shall we not be ready to endure hardship for the sake of complete happiness? For surely there is no other end in becoming good than to become happy and to live happily for the remainder of our lives. One might reasonably reflect upon characteristics even of certain animals which are very well calculated to shame us into endurance of hardships. At all events, cocks and quails, although they have no understanding of virtue as man has and know neither the good nor the just and strive for none of these things, nevertheless fight against each other and even when maimed stand up and endure until death so as not to submit the one to the other. How much more fitting, then, it is that we stand firm and endure, when we know that we are suffering for some good purpose, either to help our friends or to benefit our city, or to defend our wives and children, or, best and most imperative, to become good and just and self-controlled, a state which no man achieves without hardships. And so it remains for me to say that the man who is unwilling to exert himself almost always convicts himself as unworthy of good, since we gain every good by toil. These words and others like them he then spoke, exhorting and urging his listeners to look upon hardship with disdain.
When one of the kings from Syria once came to him (for at that time there were still kings in Syria, vassals of the Romans), amongst many other things he had to say to the man were the following words in particular. Do not imagine, he said, that it is more appropriate for anyone to study philosophy than for you, nor for any other reason than because you are a king. For the first duty of a king is to be able to protect and benefit his people, and a protector and benefactor must know what is good for a man and what is bad, what is helpful and what harmful, what advantageous and what disadvantageous, inasmuch as it is plain that those who ally themselves with evil come to harm, while those who cleave to good enjoy protection, and those who are deemed worthy of help and advantage enjoy benefits, while those who involve themselves in things disadvantageous and harmful suffer punishment. But to distinguish between good and bad, advantageous and disadvantageous, helpful and harmful is the part of none other than the philosopher, who constantly occupies himself with this very question, how not to be ignorant of any of these things, and has made it his art to understand what conduces to a man’s happiness or unhappiness. Therefore it appears that the king should study philosophy. Furthermore it is fitting for a king, or rather it is an absolute necessity for him, to arbitrate justice as between subjects so that no one may have more or less than his just deserts, but may receive honor or punishment as he deserves. But how would anyone who was not just ever be able to manage this? And how would anyone ever be just if he did not understand the nature of justice? Here again is a reason the king should study philosophy, for without such study it would not be plain that he knew justice and the just. For one cannot deny either that the one who has learned it will understand justice better than the one who has not learned it, or that all who have not studied philosophy are ignorant of its nature. The truth of this statement appears from the fact that men disagree and contend with one another about justice, some saying that it is here, others that it is there. Yet about things of which men have knowledge there is no difference of opinion, as for eXample about white and black, or hot and cold, or soft and hard, but all think the same about them and use the same words. In just the same way they would agree about justice if they knew what it was, but in their very lack of agreement they reveal their ignorance. Indeed I am inclined to think that you are not far from such ignorance yourself, and you ought therefore more than anyone else to concern yourself with this knowledge, the more disgraceful it is for a king than for a private citizen to be ignorant about justice.
In the next place it is essential for the king to exercise self-control over himself and demand self-control of his subjects, to the end that with sober rule and seemly submission there shall be no wantonness on the part of either. For the ruin of the ruler and the citizen alike is wantonness. But how would anyone achieve self-control if he did not make an effort to curb his desires, or how could one who was undisciplined make others temperate? One can mention no study except philosophy that develops self-control. Certainly it teaches one to be above pleasure and greed, to admire thrift and to avoid extravagance; it trains one to have a sense of shame; and to control one’s tongue, and it produces discipline, order, and courtesy, and in general what is fitting in action and in bearing. In an ordinary man when these qualities are present they give him dignity and self-command, but if they be present in a king they make him preeminently godlike and worthy of reverence.
Now, since fearlessness and intrepidity and boldness are the product of courage, how else would a man acquire them than by having a fum conviction that death and hardships are not evils? For these are the things, death and hardships, I repeat, which unbalance and frighten men when they believe that they are evils; that they are not evils philosophy is the only teacher. Consequently if kings ought to possess courage, and they more than anyone else should possess it, they must set themselves to the study of philosophy, since they cannot become courageous by any other means.
It is also the prerogative of kings (if they enjoy any whatever) to be invincible in reason and to be able to prevail over disputants by their arguments, just as over their enemies by their arms. Thus when kings are weak in this, it stands to reason that often they are misled and forced to accept the false as the true, which is the price of folly and dense ignorance. Now philosophy by its nature confers upon its devotees perhaps more than anything else the ability to remain superior to others in debate, to distinguish the false from the true, and to refute the one and to confirm the other. Professional speakers, at any rate, whenever they enter into the give and take of argument with philosophers one can see confused and confounded and obliged to contradict themselves. And yet if such speakers, whose business it is to practice debate, are caught because they are inferior to the philosophers in argument, what is bound to happen to other men? Therefore if it is the ambition of anyone who is a king to be powerful in debate, he should study philosophy in order that he may not have to fear that anyone will prevail over him in this, for a king should be completely fearless and courageous and invincible.
In general it is of the greatest importance for the good king to be faultless and perfect in word and action, if, indeed, he is to be a
living law as he seemed to the ancients, effecting good government and harmony, suppressing lawlessness and dissension, a true imitator of Zeus and, like him, father of his people. But how could anyone be such a king if he were not endowed with a superior nature, given the best possible education, and possessed of all the virtues that befit a man? If, then, there is any other knowledge that guides man’s nature to virtue and teaches him to practice and associate with the good, it should be placed beside philosophy and compared with it to see whether it or philosophy is better and more capable of producing a good king. Then the man who wished to become a good king would be wise to use the better one. If, however, no other art professes the teaching and transmission of virtue, though there are some which are concerned solely with man’s body and what is useful for it, while others which touch the mind aim at everything else but making it self-controlled, yet philosophy alone makes this its aim and occupies itself with this, how a man may avoid evil and acquire virtue, if this I say is so, what else would be more serviceable to a king who wished to be good than the study of philosophy? How better or how otherwise could a man be a good ruler or live a good life than by studying philosophy? For my part, I believe that the good king is straightway and of necessity a philosopher, and the philosopher a kingly person.
Of these two propositions let us examine the former: Is it possible for anyone to be a good king unless he is a good man? No, it is not possible. But given a good man, would he not be entitled to be called a philosopher? Most certainly, since philosophy is the pursuit of ideal good. Therefore a good king is found to be forthwith and of necessity a philosopher also. Now again that the philosopher is entirely kingly you may understand from this. The attribute of a kingly person is obviously the ability to rule peoples and cities well and to be worthy to govern men. Well, then, who would be a more capable head of a city or more worthy to govern men than the philosopher? For it behooves him (if he is truly a philosopher) to be intelligent, disciplined, noble-minded, a good judge of what is just and of what is seemly, efficient in putting his plans into effect, patient under hardship. In addition to this, he should be courageous, fearless, resolute in the face of things apparently disastrous, and besides beneficent, helpful, and humane. Could anyone be found more fit or better able to govern than such a man? No one. Even if he does not have many subjects obedient to him, he is not for that reason less kingly, for it is enough to rule one’s friends or one’s wife and children or, for that matter, only oneself. For, indeed, a physician who attends few patients is no less a physician than the one who attends many if, to be sure, he has skill and experience in healing. In the same way the musician who teaches only a few pupils is no less a musician than the one who teaches many, provided he knows the art of music. Likewise the horseman who trains only one or two horses is just as much a horseman as the one who trains many if he is skilled in horsemanship. And so the title of kingly person belongs to the one who has only one or two subjects just as well as to the one who has many, only let him have the skill and ability to rule, so that he may deserve the name of king. For this reason it seems to me that Socrates too called philosophy the statesmanlike and royal discipline, because one who masters it immediately becomes a statesman. When Musonius said these things, the king was glad at his words and told him that he was grateful for what he said and added,
In return for this, ask of me whatever you wish for I shall refuse you nothing. Then Musonius said,
The only favor I ask of you is to remain faithful to this teaching, since you find it commendable, for in this way and no other will you best please me and benefit yourself.
Hearing ail exile lament because he was living in banishment, Musonius consoled him in somewhat the following way. Why, he asked, should anyone who was not devoid of understanding be oppressed by exile? It does not in any way deprive us of water, earth, air, or the sun and the other planets, or indeed, even of the society of men, for everywhere and in every way there is opportunity for association with them. What if we are kept from a certain part of the earth and from association with certain men, what is so dreadful about that? Why, when we were at home, we did not enjoy the whole earth, nor did we have contact with all men; but even now in exile we may associate with our friends, that is to say the true ones and those deserving of the name, for they would never betray or abandon us; but if some prove to be sham and not true friends, we are better off separated from them than being with them. Tell me, is not the universe the common fatherland of all men, as Socrates held? Well, then, you must not consider it really being banished from your fatherland if you go from where you were hom and reared, but only being exiled from a certain city, that is if you claim to be a reasonable person. For such a man does not value or despise any place as the cause of his happiness or unhappiness, but he makes the whole matter depend upon himself and considers himself a citizen of the city of God which is made up of men and gods. Euripides speaks in harmony with this thought when he says,
As all the heavens are open to the eagle’s flight
So all the earth is for a noble man his fatherland.
Therefore, just as a man who was living in his own country but in a different house from the one where he was born would be thought silly and an object of laughter if he should weep and wail because of this, so whoever considers it a misfortune because he is living in another city and not the one where he happens to have been born would rightly be considered foolish and stupid. Furthermore, how should exile be an obstacle to the cultivation of the things that are one’s own and to the acquisition of virtue, when no one was ever hindered from the knowledge and practice of what is needful because of exile? May it not even be true that exile contributes to that end, since it furnishes men leisure and a greater opportunity for learning the good and practicing it than formerly, in that they are not forced by what only seems to be their fatherland into performing political duties, and they are not annoyed by their kinsmen nor by men who only seem to be their friends, who are skilful in fettering them and dragging them away from the pursuit of better things? In fact, there have been cases where exile was an absolute blessing as it was to Diogenes, who by his exile was transformed from an ordinary citizen into a philosopher, and instead of sitting idly in Sinope, he busied himself in Greece, and in the pursuit of virtue came to surpass the philosophers. To others who were in poor health as the result of overindulgence and high living, exile has been a source of strength because they were forced to live a more manly life. We even know of some who were cured of chronic ailments in exile, as for instance, in our day Spartiacus, the Lacedaemonian, who suffered long from a weak chest and for this reason was often ill from high living, but when he stopped living a life of luxury, he ceased to be ill. They say that others addicted to high living have got rid of gout, although they were previously completely bed-ridden by the disease-people whom exile compelled to become accustomed to living more simply and by this very thing were brought back to health. Thus it appears that by treating them better than they treat themselves, exile helps rather than hinders health both of body and of spirit.
It is not true, moreover, that exiles lack the very necessities of life. To be sure men who are idle and unresourceful and unable to play the part of a man are generally in want and without resources even when they are in their own country, but energetic and hard working and intelligent men, no matter where they go, fare well and live without want. We do not feel the lack of many things unless we wish to live luxuriously:
For what do mortals need beside two things only,
The bread of Demeter and a drink of the Water-carrier,
Which are at hand and have been made to nourish us?
Let me add that men who are worth anything not only easily manage well so far as the necessities of life are concerned, when they are in exile, but often acquire great fortunes. At any rate Odysseus, in worse plight than any exile one may say, since he was alone and naked and shipwrecked, when he arrived among strangers, the Phaeacians, was nevertheless able to enrich himself abundantly. And when Themistocles was banished from home, going to people who were not only not friendly, but actual enemies and barbarians, the Persians, he received a gift of three cities, Myus, Magnesia, and Lampsacus, as a source of livelihood. Dio of Syracuse too, deprived by Dionysius the tyrant of all his possessions, when he was banished from his country waxed so rich in exile that he raised a mercenary army, went with it to Sicily, and freed the island of the tyrant. Who, then, if he were in his right mind, looking at these cases would still maintain that banishment is the cause of want for all exiles? Furthermore, it is not at all necessary for exiles to suffer ill-repute because of their banishment, since everyone knows that many trials are badly judged and many people are unjustly banished from their country, and that in the past there have been cases of good men who have been exiled by their country-men, as for example from Athens Aristides the Just and from Ephesus Hermodorus, because of whose banishment Heraclitus bade the Ephesians, every grown man of them, go hang themselves. In fact some exiles even became very famous, as Diogenes of Sinope and Clearchus, the Lacedaemonian, who with Cyrus marched against Artaxerxes, not to mention more. How, pray, could this condition in which some people have become more renowned than before be responsible for ill-repute? But, you insist, Euripides says that exiles lose their personal liberty when they are deprived of their freedom of speech. For he represents Jocasta asking Polynices her son what misfortunes an exile has to bear. He answers,
One greatest of all, that he has not freedom of speech.
You name the plight of a slave, not to be able to say what one thinks.
But I should say in rejoinder:
You are right, Euripides, when you say that it is the condition of a slave not to say what one thinks when one ought to speak, for it is not always, nor everywhere, nor before everyone that we should say what we think. But that one point, it seems to me, is not well-taken, that exiles do not have freedom of speech, if to you freedom of speech means not suppressing whatever one chances to think. For it is not as exiles that men fear to say what they think, but as men afraid lest from speaking pain or death or punishment or some such other thing shall befall them. Fear is the cause of this, not exile. For to many people, nay to most, even though dwelling safely in their native city, fear of what seem to them dire consequences of free speech is present. However, the courageous man, in exile no less than at home, is dauntless in the face of all such fears; for that reason also he has the courage to say what he thinks equally at home or in exile. Such are the things one might reply to Euripides. But tell me, my friend, when Diogenes was in exile at Athens, or when he was sold by pirates and came to Corinth, did anyone, Athenian or Corinthian, ever exhibit greater freedom of speech than he? And again, were any of his contemporaries freer than Diogenes? Why, even Xeniades, who bought him, he ruled as a master rules a slave. But why should I employ examples of long ago? Are you not aware that I am an exile? Well, then, have I been deprived of freedom of speech? Have I been bereft of the privilege of saying what I think? Have you or anyone else ever seen me cringing before anyone just because I am an exile, or thinking that my lot is worse now than formerly? No, I’ll wager that you would say that you have never seen me complaining or disheartened because of my banishment, for if I have been deprived of my country, I have not been deprived of my ability to endure exile.
The reflections which I employ for my own benefit so as not to be irked by exile, I should like to repeat to you. It seems to me that exile does not strip a man entirely, not even of the things which the average man calls goods, as I have just shown. But if he is deprived of some or all of them, he is still not deprived of the things which are truly goods. Certainly the exile is not prevented from possessing courage and justice simply because he is banished, nor self-control, nor understanding, nor any of the other virtues which when present serve to bring honor and benefit to a man and show him to be praiseworthy and of good repute, but when absent, serve to cause him harm and dishonor and show him to be wicked and of ill-repute. Since this is true, if you are that good man and have his virtues, exile will not harm or degrade you, because the virtues are present in you which are most able to help and to sustain you. But if you are bad, it is the evil that harms you and not exile; and the misery you feel in exile is the product of evil, not of exile. It is from this you must hasten to secure release rather than from exile. These things I used to repeat to myself and I say them to you now. If you are wise, you will not consider that exile is a thing to be dreaded, since others bear it easily, but evil. It makes wretched every man in whom it is present. And neither of the two necessary alternatives is a just cause for repining. For either you were banished justly or unjustly. If justly, how can it be right or fitting to feel aggrieved at just punishment? If unjustly, the evil involved is not ours, but falls upon those who banished us, — if in fact you agree that doing a wrong (as they have done) is the most hateful thing in the world, while suffering a wrong (as has been our fate) in the eyes of the gods and of just men is held a ground not for hate but for help.
He said that he himself would never prosecute anyone for personal injury nor recommend it to anyone else who claimed to be a philosopher. For actually none of the things which people fancy they suffer as personal injuries are an injury or a disgrace to those who experience them, such as being reviled or struck or spit upon. Of these the hardest to bear are blows. That there is nothing shameful or insulting about them however is clear from the fact that Lacedaemonian boys are whipped publicly, and they exult in it. If, then, the philosopher cannot despise blows and insults, when he ought obviously to despise even death, what good would he be? Well and good, you say, but the spirit of the man who does such things is monstrous, executing his purpose to insult by jeering and a slap in the face, or by abusive language or by some other such action. You know, of course, that Demosthenes holds that people can insult even by a glance and that such things are intolerable and that men in one way or another are driven mad by them. So it is that men who do not know what is really good and what is shameful, having regard only for common opinion, think they are insulted if someone gives them a malignant glance or laughs or strikes them or reviles them. But the wise and sensible man, such as the philosopher ought to be, is not disturbed by any of these things. He does not think that disgrace lies in enduring them, but rather in doing them. For what does the man who submits to insult do that is wrong? It is the doer of wrong who forthwith puts himself to shame, while the sufferer, who does nothing but submit, has no reason whatever to feel shame or disgrace. Therefore the sensible man would not go to law nor bring indictments, since he would not even consider that he had been insulted.· Besides, to be annoyed or racked about such things would be petty. Rather he will easily and silently bear what has happened, since this befits one whose purpose is to be noble-minded. Socrates, you. remember, was clearly of this frame of mind who, though publicly ridiculed by Aristophanes, was not angry, but when he happened to meet him, asked him if he would like to use him for some other role. Can’t you imagine how quickly he would have flared up in anger at some petty abuse, this man who showed no concern even when abused in the public theater! And the good Phocion, when his wife had been reviled by someone, so far from prosecuting the fellow when he came in fear and asked forgiveness of Phocion, saying that he did not know it was his wife whom he had offended, merely replied,
But my wife has suffered nothing at your hands, though perhaps some other woman has, so you have no need to apologize to me. And I might mention many other men who have experienced insult, some wronged by word, others by violence and bodily harm, who do not appear to have defended their rights against their assailants nor to have proceeded against them in any other way, but very meekly bore their wrong. And in this they were quite right. For to scheme how to bite back the biter and to return evil for evil is the act not of a human being but of a wild beast, which is incapable of reasoning that the majority of wrongs are done to men through ignorance and misunderstanding, from which man will cease as soon as he has been taught. But to accept injury not in a spirit of savage resentment and to show ourselves not implacable toward those who wrong us, but rather to be a source of good hope to them is characteristic of a benevolent and civilized way of life. How much better a figure does the philosopher make so conducting himself as to deem worthy of forgiveness anyone who wrongs him, than to behave as if ready to defend himself with legal procedure and indictments, while in reality he is behaving in an unseemly manner and acting quite contrary to his own teaching. To be sure he says that a good man can never be wronged by a bad man; but nevertheless he draws up an indictment as having been wronged by bad men, while claiming to be accounted a good man himself.
There is also another means of livelihood in no way inferior to this, indeed, perhaps it would not be unreasonable to consider it even better for a strong person, namely earning a living from the soil, whether one owns his own land or not. For many who are farming land owned either by the state or by other private individuals are yet able to support not only themselves but their wives and children as well; and some in fact attain even a high degree of prosperity by hard work with their own hands. For the earth repays most justly and well those who cultivate her, returning many times as much as she received and furnishing an abundance of all the necessities of life to anyone who is willing to work; and this she does without violating one’s dignity or self-respect. You may be sure that no one who was not demoralized by soft living would say that the labor of the farmer was degrading or unfit for a good man. How, I ask, could planting trees or ploughing or pruning vines not be honorable? Are not sowing seed and harvesting and threshing all occupations for free men and befitting good men? Even keeping flocks, as it did not disgrace Hesiod nor prevent him from being a poet and beloved of the gods, so it would not prevent anyone else. In fact to me this is the most agreeable of all aspects of farming, because it gives the spirit more leisure to reflect on and to investigate the things that have to do with our own development and training. For while, to be sure, the occupations which strain and tire the whole body compel the mind to share in concentration upon them, or at all events, upon the body, yet the occupations which require not too much physical exertion do not hinder the mind from reflecting on some of the higher things and by such reasoning from increasing its own wisdom-a goal toward which every philosopher earnestly strives. For these reasons I recommend particularly the life of a shepherd. But, speaking generally, if one devotes himself to the life of philosophy and tills the land at the same time, I should not compare any other way of life to his nor prefer any other means of livelihood. For is it not
living more in accord with nature to draw one’s sustenance directly from the earth, which is the nurse and mother of us all, rather than from some other source? Is it not more like the life of a man to live in the country than to sit idly in the city, like the sophists? Who will say that it is not more healthy to live out of doors than to shun the open air and the heat of the sun? Tell me, do you think it is more fitting for a free man by his own labor to procure for himself the necessities of life or to receive them from others? But surely it is plain that not to require another’s help for one’s need is more dignified than asking for it. How very good and happy and blessed of heaven is the life of the soil, when along with it the goods of the spirit are not neglected, the example of Myson of Chen may show, whom the god called
wise, and Aglaus of Psophis whom he hailed as
happy, both of whom lived on the land and tilled the soil with their own hands, and held aloof from the life of the town. Is not their example worthy of emulation and an incentive to follow in their footsteps and to embrace the life of husbandry with a zeal like theirs?
What, perhaps someone may say, is it not preposterous for an educated man who is able to influence the young to the study of philosophy to work the land and to do manual labor just like a peasant? Yes, that would be really too bad if working the land prevented him from the pursuit of philosophy or from helping others to its attainment. But since that is not so, pupils would seem to me rather benefited by not meeting with their teacher in the city nor listening to his formal lectures and discussions, but by seeing him at work in the fields, demonstrating by his own labor the lessons which philosophy inculcates — that one should endure hardships, and suffer the pains of labor with his own body, rather than depend upon another for sustenance. What is there to prevent a student while he is working from listening to a teacher speaking about self-control or justice or endurance? For those who teach philosophy well do not need many words, nor is there any need that pupils should try to master all this current mass of precepts on which we see our sophists pride themselves; they are enough to consume a whole life-time. But the most necessary and useful things it is not impossible for men to learn in addition to their farm work, especially if they are not kept at work constantly but have periods of rest. Now I know perfectly well that few will wish to learn in this way, yet it would be better if the majority of young men who say they are studying philosophy did not go near a philosopher, I mean those spoiled and effeminate fellows by whose presence the good name of philosophy is stained. For of the true lovers of philosophy, there is not one who would not be willing to live with a good man in the country, even if the place be very rude, since he would be bound to profit greatly from this sojourn by living with his teacher night and day, by being away from the evils of the city, which are an obstacle to the study of philosophy, and from the fact that his conduct, whether good or bad, cannot escape observation — a great advantage to those who are learning. Also to eat and drink and sleep under the supervision of a good man is a great benefit. All these things, which would come about inevitably from living together in the country, Theognis praised in the verses where he says,
Drink and eat and sit down with good men, and win the approval of those whose influence and power is great.
That he means that none others but good men have great power for the good of men, if one eats and drinks and sits down with them, he has shown in the following:
From good men you will learn good, but if you mingle with the bad you will destroy even such soul as you had.
Therefore let no one say that farming is an obstacle to learning or to teaching the lessons of duty, for it can scarcely be such an obstacle, if we realize that under these conditions the pupil lives in closest association with the teacher, an:d the teacher has the pupil constantly at hand. And where this is the case, earning a living by farming seems to be most suitable for a philosopher.
Not the least significant part of the life of luxury and self-indulgence lies also in sexual excess; for example those who lead such a life crave a variety of loves not only lawful but unlawful ones as well, not women alone but also men; sometimes they pursue one love and sometimes another, and not being satisfied with those which are available, pursue those which are rare and inaccessible, and invent shameful intimacies, all of which constitute a grave indictment of manhood. Men who are not wantons or immoral are bound to consider sexual intercourse justified only when it occurs in marriage and is indulged in for the purpose of begetting children, since that is lawful, but unjust and unlawful when it is mere pleasure-seeking, even in marriage. But of all sexual relations those involving adultery are most unlawful, and no more tolerable are those of men with men, because it is a monstrous thing and contrary to nature. But, furthermore, leaving out of consideration adultery, all intercourse with women which is without lawful character is shameful and is practiced from lack of self-restraint. So no one with any self-control would think of having relations with a courtesan or a free woman apart from marriage, no, nor even with his own maid-servant. The fact that those relationships are not lawful or seemly makes them a disgrace and a reproach to those seeking them; whence it is that no one dares to do any of these things openly, not even if he has all but lost the ability to blush, and those who are not completely degenerate dare to do these things only in hiding and in secret. And yet to attempt to cover up what one is doing is equivalent to a confession of guilt.
That’s all very well, you say,
but unlike the adulterer who wrongs the husband of the woman he corrupts, the man who has relations with a courtesan or a woman who has no husband wrongs no one for he does not destroy anyone’s hope of children. I continue to maintain that everyone who sins and does wrong, even if it affects none of the people about him, yet immediately reveals himself as a worse and a less honorable person; for the wrong-doer by the very fact of doing wrong is worse and less honorable. Not to mention the injustice of the thing, there must be sheer wantonness in anyone yielding to the temptation of shameful pleasure and like swine rejoicing in his own vileness. In this category belongs the man who has relations with his own slave-maid, a thing which some people consider quite without blame, since every master is held to have it in his power to use his slave as he wishes. In reply to this I have just one thing to say: if it seems neither shameful nor out of place for a master to have relations with his own slave, particularly if she happens to be unmarried, let him consider how he would like it if his wife had relations with a male slave. Would it not seem completely intolerable not only if the woman who had a lawful husband had relations with a slave, but even if a woman without a husband should have? And yet surely one will not expect men to be_less moral than women, nor less capable of disciplining their desires, thereby revealing the stronger in judgment inferior to the weaker, the rulers to the ruled. In fact, it behooves men to be much better if they expect to be superior to women, for surely if they appear to be less self-controlled they will also be baser characters. What need is there to say that it is an act of licentiousness and nothing less for a master to have relations with a slave? Everyone knows that.
[That the primary end of marriage is community of life with a view to the procreation of children.] The husband and wife, he used to say, should come together for the purpose of making a life in common and of procreating children, and furthermore of regarding all things in common between them, and nothing peculiar or private to one or the other, not even their own bodies. The birth of a human being which results from such a union is to be sure something marvelous, but it is not yet enough for the relation of husband and wife, inasmuch as quite apart from marriage it could result from any other sexual union, just as in the case of animals. But in marriage there must be above all perfect companionship and mutual love of husband and wife, both in health and in sickness and under all conditions, since it was with desire for this as well as for having children that both entered upon marriage. Where, then, this love for each other is perfect and the two share it completely, each striving to outdo the other in devotion, the marriage is ideal and worthy of envy, for such a union is beautiful. But where each looks only to his own interests and neglects the other, or, what is worse, when one is so minded and lives in the same house but fixes his attention elsewhere and is not willing to pull together with his yoke-mate nor to agree, then the union is doomed to disaster and though they live together, yet their common interests fare badly; eventually they separate entirely or they remain together and suffer what is worse than loneliness.
Therefore those who contemplate marriage ought to have regard neither for family, whether either one be of high-born parents, nor for wealth, whether on either side there be great possessions, nor for physical traits, whether one or the other have beauty. For neither wealth nor beauty nor high birth is effective in promoting partnership of interest or sympathy, nor again are they significant for producing children. But as for the body it is enough for marriage that it be healthy, of normal appearance, and capable of hard work, such as would be less exposed to the snares of tempters, better adapted to perform physical labor, and not wanting in strength to beget or to bear children. With respect _to character or soul one should expect that it be habituated to self-control and justice, and in a word, naturally disposed to virtue. [These qualities should be present in both man and wife.] For without sympathy of mind and character between husband and wife, what marriage can be good, what partnership advantageous? How could two human beings who are base have sympathy of spirit one with the other? Or how could one that is good be in harmony with one that is bad? No more than a crooked piece of wood could be fitted to a straight one, or two crooked ones be put together. For the crooked one will not fit another crooked one, and much less the opposite, a crooked with a straight one. So a wicked man is not friendly to a wicked one, nor does he agree with him, and much less with a good man.
Again when someone said that marriage and living with a wife seemed to him a handicap to the pursuit of philosophy, Musonius said that it was no handicap to Pythagoras, nor to Socrates, nor to Crates, each of whom lived with a wife, and one could not mention better philosophers than these. Crates, although homeless and completely without property or possessions, was nevertheless married; furthermore, not having a shelter of his own, he spent his days and nights in the public porticoes of Athens together with his wife. How, then, can we, who have a home to start with and some of us even have servants to work for us, venture to say that marriage is a handicap for philosophy? Now the philosopher is indeed the teacher and leader of men in all the things which are appropriate for men according to nature, and marriage, if anything, is manifestly in accord with nature. For, to what other purpose did the creator of mankind first divide our human race into two sexes, male and female, then implant in each a strong desire for association and union with the other, instilling in both a powerful longing each for the other, the male for the female and the female for the male? Is it not then plain that he wished the two to be united and live together, and by their joint efforts to devise a way of life in common, and to produce and rear children together, so that the race might never die? Tell me, then, is it fitting for each man to act for himself alone or to act in the interest of his neighbor also, not only that there may be homes in the city but also that the city may not be deserted and that the common good may best be served? If you say that each one should look out for his own interests alone, you represent man as no different from a wolf or any other of the wildest beasts which are born to live by violence and plunder, sparing nothing from which they may gain some advantage, having no part in a life in common with others, no part in cooperation with others, no share of any notion of justice. If you will agree that man’s nature most closely resembles the bee which cannot live alone (for it dies when left alone), but bends its energies to the one common task of his fellows and toils and works together with his neighbors; if this is so, and in addition you recognize that for man evil consists in injustice and cruelty and indifference to a neighbor’s trouble, while virtue is brotherly love and goodness and justice and beneficence and concern for the welfare of one’s neighbor — with such ideas, I say, it would be each man’s duty to take thought for his own city, and to make of his home a rampart for its protection. But the first step toward making his home such a rampart is marriage. Thus whoever destroys human marriage destroys the home, the city, and the whole human race. For it would not last if there were no procreation of children and there would be no just and lawful procreation of children without marriage. That the home or the city does not depend upon women alone or upon men alone, but upon their union with each other is evident. One could find no other association more necessary nor more pleasant than that of men and women. For what man is so devoted to his friend as a loving wife is to her husband? What brother to a brother? What son to his parents? Who is so longed for when absent as a husband by his wife, or a wife by her husband? Whose presence would do more to lighten grief or increase joy or remedy misfortune? To whom is everything judged to be common, body, soul, and possessions, except man and wife? For these reasons all men consider the love of man and wife to be the highest form of love; and no reasonable mother or father would expect to entertain a deeper love for his own child than for the one joined to him in marriage. Indeed how much the love of a wife for her husband surpasses the love of parents for their children is clearly illustrated by the familiar story of how Admetus, receiving from the gods the privilege of living twice the time allotted to him if he could get someone else to die in his place, found his parents unwilling to die for him although they were old, but his wedded wife Alcestis, though still very young, readily accepted death in her husband’s place.
How great and worthy an estate is marriage is plain from this also, that gods watch over it, great gods, too, in the estimation of men; first Hera (and for this reason we address her as the patroness of wedlock), then Eros, then Aphrodite, for we assume that all of these perform the function of bringing together man and woman for the procreation of children. Where, indeed, does Eros more properly belong than in the lawful union of man and wife? Where Hera? Where Aphrodite? When would one more appropriately pray to these divinities than when entering into marriage? What should we more properly call the work of Aphrodite than the joining of wife and husband? Why, then, should anyone say that such great divinities watch over and guard marriage and the procreation of children, unless these things are the proper concern of man? Why should one say that they are the proper concern of man but not the concern of the philosopher? Can it be because the philosopher is worse than other men? Certainly he ought not to be worse, but better and more just and more truly good. Or could one say that the man who does not take an interest in his city is not worse and more unjust than the man who does, the man who looks out only for his own interests is not worse than the one who looks out for the common good? Or can it be that the man who chooses the single life is more patriotic, more a friend and partner of his fellow-man, than the man who maintains a home and rears children and contributes to the growth of his city, which is exactly what a married man does? It is clear, therefore, that it is fitting for a philosopher to concern himself with marriage and having children. And if this is fitting, how, my young friend, could that argument of yours that marriage is a handicap for a philosopher ever be sound? For manifestly the study of philosophy is nothing else than to search out by reason what is right and proper and by deeds to put it into practice. Such, then, were the words he spoke at that time.
Is it not true that the lawgivers, whose special function it was by carefui search to discern what is good for the state and what is bad, what promotes and what is detrimental to the common good, all considered the increase of the homes of the citizens the most fortunate thing for the cities and the decrease of them the most shameful thing? And when the citizens had few or no children did they not regard it as a loss, but when they had children, yes, plenty of them, did they not regard it as a gain? So it was for this reason that they forbade women to suffer abortions and imposed a penalty upon those who disobeyed; for this reason they discouraged them from choosing childlessness and avoiding parenthood, and for this reason they gave to both husband and wife a reward for large families, and set a penalty upon childlessness. How, then, can we avoid doing wrong and breaking the law if we do the opposite of the wish of the lawgivers, godlike men and dear to the gods, whom it is considered good and advantageous to follow? And certainly we do the opposite if we avoid having many children. How can we help committing a sin against the gods of our fathers and against Zeus, guardian of the race, if we do this? For just as the man who is unjust to strangers sins against Zeus, god of hospitality, and one who is unjust to friends sins against Zeus, god of friendship, so whoever is unjust to his own family sins against the gods of his fathers and against Zeus, guardian of the family, from whom wrongs done to the family are not hidden, and surely one who sins against the gods is impious. And that raising many children is an honorable and profitable thing one may gather from the fact that a man who has many children is honored in the city, that he has the respect of his neighbors, that he has more influence than his equals if they are not equally blest with children. I need not argue that a man with many friends is more powerful than one who has no friends, and so a man who has many children is more powerful than one without any or with only a few children, or rather much more so, since a son is closer than a friend. One may remark what a fine sight it is to see a man or woman surrounded by their children. Surely one could not witness a procession arrayed in honor of the gods so beautiful nor a choral dance performed in order at a religious celebration so well worth seeing as a chorus of children forming a guard of honor for their father or mother in the city of their birth, leading their parents by the hand or dutifully caring for them in some other way. What is more beautiful than this sight? What is more enviable than these parents, especially if they are good people? For whom would one more gladly join in praying for blessings from the gods, or whom would one be mote willing to assist in need? Very true, you say, but I am a poor man and quite without means, and if I have many children, from what source should I find food for them all? But pray, whence do the little birds, which are much poorer than you, feed their young, the swallows and nightingales and larks and blackbirds? Homer speaks of them in these words:
Even as a bird carries to her unfledged young whatever morsels she happens to come upon, though she fares badly herself —
Do these creatures surpass man in intelligence? You certainly would not say that. In strength and endurance, then? No, still less in that respect. Well, then, do they put away food and store it up? [Not at all, and yet they rear their young and find sustenance for all that are born to them. The plea of poverty, therefore, is unjustified.]
But what seems to me most monstrous of all, some who do not even have poverty as an excuse, and in spite of prosperity and even riches are so inhuman as not to rear later-born offspring in order that those earlier born may inherit greater wealth — by such a deed of wickedness planning prosperity for their surviving children. That these may have a greater share of their father’s goods, their parents rob them of brothers, never having learned how much better it is to have many brothers than to have many possessions. For possessions inspire intrigue on the part of the neighbors, but brothers discourage intriguers. And possessions need support, but brothers are the strongest supporters. One cannot compare a good friend to a brother nor the help which others, friends and equals, give to that which a brother gives. What good would one compare to the good will of a brother as a pledge of security? What better disposed sharer of common goods could one find than a good brother? Whose presence in misfortune would one desire more than such a brother’s? For my part I consider the man most enviable who lives amid a number of like-minded brothers, and I consider most beloved of the gods the man who has these blessings at home. Therefore I believe that each one of us ought to try to leave brothers rather than money to our children so as to leave greater assurances of blessings.
A certain young man who wished to study philosophy, but was forbidden by his father to do so, put this question to him:
Tell me, Musonius, must one obey one’s parents in all things, or are there some circumstances under which one need not heed them? And Musonius replied, “That everyone should obey his mother and father seems a good thing, and I certainly recommend it. However, let us see what this matter of obedience is, or rather, first, what is the nature of disobedience, and let us consider who the disobedient person is, if in this way we may better understand what the nature of obedience is.
Now then, take this case. If a father who is not a physician and not experienced in matters of health or sickness should prescribe for his invalid son something which was harmful and injurious, and the son was a ware of that fact, surely in not following his father’s prescription he is not disobeying and is not disobedient, is he? It would not seem so. Or again, suppose the father himself were ill and should demand wine and food which he ought not to have, and which probably would aggravate his illness if he took it, and his son, realizing this, would not give it to him, surely he is not disobeying his father, is he? Certainly one cannot think so. And yet I fancy one would consider far less disobedient than in this case, the man who, having a money-loving father, is ordered by him to steal or make away with money entrusted to him, but does not carry out the order. Or do you think that there are no fathers who give such orders to their children? Well, I know a father so depraved that, having a son conspicuous for youthful beauty, he sold him into a life of shame. If, now, that lad who was sold and sent into such a life by his father had refused and would not go, should we say that he was disobedient or that he was showing purity of character? Surely even to ask the question is scarcely necessary. To be sure, disobedience and the disobedient person are terms of reproach and shame, but refusing to do what one ought not to do merits praise mther than blame. Therefore whether one’s father or the archon or even the tyrant orders something wrong or unjust or shameful, and one does not carry out the order, he is in no way disobeying, inasmuch as he does no wrong nor fails of doing right. He only disobeys who disregards and refuses to carry out good and honorable and useful orders. Such is the disobedient man.
But the obedient person behaves in just the opposite way and is completely different from him; he would be the kind of man who listens to anyone who counsels what is fitting and follows it voluntarily. That is the obedient man. Thus in relation to his parents also, one is obedient when he does voluntarily whatever they counsel that is good and fitting. For my part, moreover, I should say that anyone who did what was right and expedient, even when his parents did not counsel it, was obeying his parents, and in support of my reasoning, consider this. In my opinion the man who does what his father desires and follows his father’s wishes is obeying his father; and he who does what he ought and pursues the better course is following the wish of his father. How is that? Because surely all parents have the interests of their children at heart, and because of that interest they wish them to do what is right and advantageous. Consequently one who does what is right and useful is doing what his parents wish and so is obedient to his parents in doing it, even if his parents do not order him in so many words to do these things. This one thing only and nothing else should he take into consideration who wishes to obey his parents in each act — whether what he plans to do is good and advantageous. Thus if such a conviction be entertained, whatever a man’s action may be, it is the act of one obedient to his parents.
And so you, my young friend, do not fear that you will disobey your father, if when your father bids you do something which is not right, you refrain from doing it, or when he forbids you to do something which is right you do not refrain from doing it. Do not let your father be an excuse to you for wrong-doing whether he bids you do something which is not right or forbids you to do what is right. For there is no necessity for you to comply with evil injunctions, and you yourself seem not unaware of this. You would certainly not submit to your father in musical matters if, with no knowledge of music, he should order you to play the lyre incorrectly, or if he knew nothing of grammar and you did, he should order you to write and read, not as you had learned but otherwise; and if, finally, with no knowledge of how to steer a ship, he should order you who did understand to handle the helm in the wrong way, you would not heed· him. Well, then, enough of that.
Now if your father, knowing nothing about the subject, should forbid you who had learned and comprehended what philosophy is to study philosophy, would you be bound to heed him, or would you not rather be obligated to teach him better, since he is giving bad advice? That seems to me to be the answer. Perhaps by using reason alone one might persuade his father to adopt the attitude he ought in regard to philosophy if the father’s disposition is not too obstinate. If, however, he should not be persuaded by argument and would not yield; yet even then the conduct of his son will win him over if his son is truly putting his philosophy into practice. For, as a student of philosophy he will certainly be most eager to treat his father with the greatest possible consideration and will be most well-behaved and gentle; in his relations with his father he will never be contentious or self-willed, nor hasty or prone to anger; furthermore he will control his tongue and his appetite whether for food or for sexual temptations, and he will stand fast in the face of danger and hardships; and finally with competence in recognizing the true good, he will not let the apparent good pass without examination. As a result he will willingly give up all pleasures for his father’s sake, and for him he will accept all manner of hardships willingly. To have such a son who would not offer prayers to the gods? Who, having one, would not love him because of whom he had become an envied and most blessed father in the eyes of all men of sound judgment?
If, then, my young friend, with a view to becoming such a man, as you surely will if you truly master the lessons of philosophy, you should not be able to induce your father to permit you to do as you wish, nor succeed in persuading him, reason thus: your father forbids you to study philosophy, but the common father of all men and gods, Zeus, bids you and exhorts you to do so. His command and law is that man be just and honest, beneficent, temperate, high-minded, superior to pain, superior to pleasure, free of all envy and all malice; to put it briefly, the law of Zeus bids man be good. But being goo.d is the same as being a philosopher. If you obey your father, you will follow the will of a man; if you choose the philosopher’s life, the will of God. It is plain, therefore, that your duty lies in the pursuit of philosophy rather than not. But, you say, your father will restrain you and actually shut you up to prevent your study of philosophy. Perhaps he will do so, but he will not prevent you from studying philosophy unless you are willing; for we do not study philosophy with our hands or feet or any other part of the body, but with the soul and with a very small part of it, that which we may call the reason. This God placed in the strongest place so that it might be inaccessible to sight and touch, free from all compulsion and in its own power. Particularly if your mind is good your father will not be able to prevent you from using it nor from thinking what you ought nor from liking the good and not liking the base; nor again from choosing the one and rejecting the other. In the very act of doing this, you would be studying philosophy, and you would not need to wrap yourself up in a worn cloak nor go without a chiton nor grow long hair nor deviate from the ordinary practices of the average man. To be sure, such things are well enough for professional philosophers, but philosophy does not consist in them, but rather in thinking out what is man’s duty and meditating upon it.”
At another time when an old man asked him what was the best viaticum for old age, he said, the very one that is best for youth too, namely to live by method and in accord with nature. You would best understand what this means if you would realize that mankind was not created for pleasure. For that matter, neither was the horse or dog or cow created for pleasure, and all of these creatures are much less valuable than man. Certainly a horse would not be considered to have fulfilled its purpose by eating and drinking and mating at will, and doing none of the things which are the proper work of a horse; no more would a dog if it simply enjoyed all kinds of pleasures like the horse and did none of the things for which dogs are considered good; nor would any other animal if kept from the functions proper to it and allowed to have its fill of pleasures; in short, according to this, nothing would be said to be living according to nature but what by its actions manifests the excellence peculiar to its own nature. For the nature of each guides it to its own excellence; consequently it is not reasonable to suppose that when man lives a life of pleasure that he lives according to nature, but rather when he lives a life of virtue. Then, indeed, it is that he is justly praised and takes pride in himself and is optimistic and courageous, characteristics upon which cheerfulness and serene joy necessarily follow. In general, of all creatures on earth man alone resembles God and has the same virtues that He has, since we can imagine nothing even in the gods better than prudence, justice, courage, and temperance. Therefore, as God, through the possession of these virtues, is unconquered by pleasure or greed, is superior to desire, envy, and jealousy; is high-minded, beneficent, and kindly (for such is our conception of God), so also man in the image of Him, when living in accord with nature, should be thought of as being like Him, and being like Him, being enviable, and being enviable, he would forthwith be happy, for we envy none but the happy. Indeed it is not impossible for man to be such, for certainly when we encounter men whom we call godly and god-like, we do not have to imagine that these virtues came from elsewhere than from man’s own nature. If, then, by good fortune while still young, one had taken pains to get right instruction, and had mastered thoroughly all those lessons which are considered good, as well as their practical application, such a man in old age using these inner resources would live according to nature, and he would bear without complaint the loss of the pleasures of youth, nor would he fret at the weakness of his body, and he would not be irked even when slighted by his neighbors or neglected by his relatives and friends, since he would have a good antidote for all these things in his own mind, namely his past training. If, however, one should have shared less abundantly in early instruction but should show an eagerness for better things and a capacity for following words well-spoken, he would do well if he sought to hear relevant words from those who have made it their business to know what things are harmful and what helpful to men, and in what way one should avoid the former and obtain the latter, and how one should patiently accept things which befall him that seem to be evils, but are not really so. If he heard these things and acted upon them (for to hear them without acting upon them would be most unprofitable), he would manage old age very well, and in particular he would rid himself of the fear of death which more than all else terrifies and oppresses the aged, as though they had forgotten that death is a debt which every man owes. Yet it is certain that that which renders life most miserable for the aged is this very thing, the fear of death, as even the orator !socrates confessed. For they tell that when someone asked how he was getting on, he replied that he was doing as well as was reasonable for a man of ninety, but that he considered death the worst of evils. And yet how could there have been any smattering of knowledge or of acquaintance with true good and evil in the man who thought that an evil which is the necessary sequel even to the best life? The best life, you will agree, is that of a good man, and yet the end even of such a man is death. Therefore, as I said before, if one in old age should succeed in mastering this lesson, to wait for death without fear and courageously, he would have acquired no small part of how to live without complaint and in accordance with nature. He would acquire this by associating with men who were philosophers not in name only but in truth, if he were willing to follow their teachings. So it is that I tell you that the best viaticum for old age is the one I mentioned in the beginning, to live according to nature, doing and thinking what one ought. For so an old man would himself be most cheerful and would win the praise of others, and being thus, he would live happily and in honor. But if anyone thinks that wealth is the greatest consolation of old age, and that to acquire it is to live without sorrow, he is quite mistaken; wealth is able to procure for man the pleasures of eating and drinking and other sensual pleasures, but it can never afford cheerfulness of spirit nor freedom from sorrow in one who possesses it. Witnesses to this truth are many rich men who are full of sadness and despair and think themselves wretched — evidence enough that wealth is not a good protection for old age.
On the subject of food he used to speak frequently and very emphatically too, as a question of no small significance, nor leading to unimportant consequences; indeed he believed that the beginning and foundation of temperance lay in self-control in eating and drinking. Once, putting aside other themes such as he habitually discussed, he spoke somewhat as follows. As one should prefer inexpensive food to expensive and what is abundant to what is scarce, so one should prefer what is natural for men to what is not. Now food from plants of the earth is natural to us, grains and those which though not cereals can nourish man well, and also food (other than flesh) from animals which are domesticated. Of these foods the most useful are those which can be used at once without fire, since they are also most easily available; for example fruits in season, some of the green vegetables, milk, cheese, and honey. Also those which require fire for their preparation, whether grains or vegetables, are not unsuitable, and are all natural food for man. On the other hand he showed that meat was a less civilized kind of food and more appropriate for wild animals. He held that it was a heavy food and an obstacle to thinking and reasoning, since the exhalations rising from it being turbid darkened the soul. For this reason also the people who make larger use of it seem slower in intellect. Furthermore, as man of all creatures on earth is the nearest of kin to the gods, so he should be nourished in a manner most like the gods. Now the vapors rising from the earth and water are sufficient for them, and so, he said, we ought to be nourished on food most like that, the lightest and purest; for thus our souls would be pure and dry, and being so, would be finest and wisest, as it seemed to Heraclitus when he said,
The clear dry soul is wisest and best. But now, he said, we feed ourselves much worse than the unreasoning brutes. For even if they, driven by appetite as by a lash, fall upon their food, nevertheless they are not guilty of making a fuss about their food and exercising ingenuity about it, but they are satisfied with what comes their way, seeking satiety only, nothing more. But we contrive all kinds of arts and devices to give relish to eating and to make more enticing the act of swallowing. We have come to such a point of delicacy in eating and gourmanderie that as some people have written books on music and medicine, so some have even written books on cooking which aim to increase the pleasure of the palate, but ruin the health. It is at all events a common observation that those who are luxurious and intemperate in food have much less vigorous health. Some, in fact, are like women who have the unnatural cravings of pregnancy; these men, like such women, refuse the most common foods and have their digestion utterly ruined. Thus, as worn-out iron constantly needs tempering, their appetites continually demand being sharpened either by neat wine or a sharp sauce or some sour relish. But no such man was the Laconian who, on seeing a man refuse to eat a young peacock or other expensive bird that was placed before him, and complain that he could not eat because of lack of appetite, remarked,
But I could eat a vulture or a buzzard. Zeno of Citium even when he was ill thought that no unusually delicate food should be brought him, and when the attending physician ordered him to eat squab, he would not allow it, and said,
Treat me as you would treat my slave Manes. For I imagine that he thought there should be nothing more delicate in his treatment than for one of his slaves if he were ill; for if they can be cured without receiving more delicate fare, so can we. Surely a good man should be no more delicate than a slave; and for that reason Zeno very likely thought he ought to beware of delicacy in diet and not yield to it in the least, for if he once yielded he would go the whole way, since in the matter of food and drink, pleasure accelerates its pace alarmingly. The words spoken on that occasion concerning food and nourishment seemed to us more unusual than the customary discourses day by day.
Thoroughly shameful, he used to say, are gluttony and high living, and no one will dare deny it; yet I have observed very few aiming to shun these vices. On the contrary I notice that the majority of people strive to obtain these same foods when they are not available and when they are at hand are unable to refrain from them, and they use them so lavishly when they have them that they make for the detriment of their health. And yet what else is gluttony but intemperance in the matter of nourishment, causing men to prefer what is pleasant in food to what is beneficial? And high living is nothing but excess in table luxury. Now excess is always evil, but here particularly it reveals its true nature in these people since it makes them greedy like swine or dogs rather than men, and incapable of behaving properly with hands, or eyes, or gullet, so completely does the desire for pleasure in dainties of the table pervert them. How shameful it is to behave toward food in this way we may learn from the fact that we liken them to unreasoning animals rather than to intelligent human beings. Now if this is shameful, the opposite must be altogether good; that is, exercising moderation and decorum in eating, demonstrating one’s self-control there first of all, not an easy thing to do, but one which requires much attention and practice. Why should this be? Because although there are many pleasures which lure man into wrong-doing and force him to yield to them contrary to what is good, pleasure in eating is probably the hardest of all to combat. For other pleasures we encounter less often, and we can refrain from some of them for months and whole years, but of necessity we are tempted by this one every day and usually twice a day, since it is not possible for man to live otherwise. Thus the oftener we are tempted by pleasure in eating, the more dangers there are involved. And indeed at each meal there is not one hazard for going wrong, but many. First of all, the man who eats more than he ought does wrong, and the man who eats in undue haste no less, and also the man who wallows in the pickles and sauces, and the man who prefers the sweeter foods to the more healthful ones, and the man who does not serve food of the same kind or amount to his guests as to himself. There is still another wrong in connection with eating, when we indulge in it at an unseasonable time, and although there is something else we ought to do, we put it aside in order to eat. Since, then, these and even more vices are connected with eating, if a man wishes to show self-control, he must be free of all of them and not be guilty of any of them. To keep himself blameless and free from such errors one should by constant practice accustom himself to choosing food not for enjoyment but for nourishment, not to tickle his palate but to strengthen his body. Indeed the throat was designed to be a passage for food, not an organ of pleasure, and the stomach was made for the same purpose as the root was created in plants. For just as the root nourishes the plant by taking food from without, so the stomach nourishes the living being from the food and drink which are taken into it. And again just as plants receive nourishment that they may survive, and not for their pleasure, so in like manner food is to us the medicine of life. Therefore it is fitting for us to eat in order to live, not in order Ao have pleasure, if, at all events, we wish to keep in line with the wise words of Socrates, who said that the majority of men live to eat but that he ate in order to live. Certainly no reasonable being, whose ambition is to be a man, will think it desirable to be like the majority who live to eat, and like them, to spend his life in the chase after pleasure derived from food.
That God who made man provided him food and drink for the sake of preserving his life and not for giving him pleasure, one can see very well from this: when food is performing its real function, it does not produce pleasure for man, that is in the process of digestion and assimilation. At that time we are being nourished and renew our strength, but we feel no sensation of pleasure; and yet there is a longer time involved in this process than in eating. Surely if God had planned eating as a pleasure for us, He would have had us enjoy it a longer time and not merely the brief moment when we are swallowing. And yet for the sake of that brief moment when we do experience pleasure, countless dainties are prepared, the sea is sailed from end to end, cooks are more in demand than farmers; some even squander the value of their estates to spread their tables, though their bodies are not at all benefited by the costliness of the food. Quite the contrary, people who eat the cheapest food are the strongest. Indeed you may notice that slaves are usually stronger than their masters, country men than city men, the poor than the rich, better able to do hard work, less fatigued by their labor, less frequently ill, enduring more cheerfully cold, heat, lack of sleep, and every such hardship. Furthermore, even if expensive and cheap food strengthened the body equally well, nevertheless one ought to choose the cheaper food because it is more conducive to temperance and more fitting for a good man. In general for men of sense and reason, in respect of food, what is easy to procure is better than what is hard to obtain, what requires no work than what requires it, what is available than what is not at hand. But to sum up the question of food, I maintain that its purpose should be to produce health and strength, that one should for that purpose eat only that which requires no great outlay, and finally that at table one should have regard for a fitting decorum and moderation, and most of all should be superior to the common vices of filth and greedy haste.
Such were his opinions on food. He also thought it best to provide moderate covering for the body, not expensive and superfluous, for he said that one ought to use clothing and shoes in exactly the same way as armour, that is for the protection of the body and not for display. Therefore just as the most powerful weapons and those best calculated to protect the bearer are the best, and not those which attract the eye by their sheen, so likewise the garment or shoe which is most useful for the body is best, and not one which causes the foolish to turn and stare. For the covering should at once render the thing covered better and stronger than its natural condition, rather than weaker and worse. Those, then, who acquire smoothness and delicacy of skin by their clothing make their bodies worse, inasmuch as plainly the pampered and soft body is much worse than one that is sturdy and bears evidence of hard work. But those who strengthen and invigorate the body by the clothing they wear, those, I say, are the only ones who benefit the parts of the body so covered. It does not improve the appearance of the body to cover it completely with many garments, to smother it with tight wrappings, and to soften the hands and feet by close fitting gloves or shoes unless perhaps in case of illness. It is not good to be entirely without experience of cold and heat, but one ought in some degree to feel the cold in winter and likewise the heat of the sun in summer and to seek the shelter of shade as little as possible. Wearing one chiton is preferable to needing two, and wearing none but only a cloak is preferable to wearing one. Also going barefoot is better than wearing sandals, if one can do it, for wearing sandals is next to being bound, but going barefoot gives the feet great freedom and grace when they are used to it. It is for this reason that one sees couriers wearing no sandals on the highways and the runners in a contest unable to make the best speed if they have to run in sandals.
Since we make houses too for a shelter, I argue that they ought to be made to satisfy bare necessity, to keep out the cold and extreme heat and to be a protection from the sun and the winds for those who need it. In general, whatever a natural cave would offer, furnishing a moderate shelter for man, this our houses ought to furnish for us, with just enough to spare to make a convenient place for storing away man’s food. What good are courtyards surrounded by colonnades? What good are all kinds of colored paints? What good are gold-decked rooms? What good are expensive stones, some fitted together on the floor, others inlaid in the walls, some brought from a great distance, and at the greatest expense? Are not all these things superfluous and unnecessary, without which it is possible not only to live but also to be healthy? Are they not the source of constant trouble, and do they not cost great sums of money from which many people might have benefited by public and private charity? How much more commendable than living a life of luxury it is to help many people. How much nobler than spending money for sticks and stones to spend it on men. How much more profitable than surrounding oneself with a great house to make many friends, the natural result of cheerfully doing good. What would one gain from a large and beautiful house comparable to what he would gain by conferring the benefits of his wealth upon the city and his fellow-citizens?
Related to and in harmony with extravagance in houses is all the matter of furnishings within the house-couches, tables, coverlets, drinking cups, and similar objects-completely surpassing all needs and going far beyond necessity. There are ivory and silver, yes, even golden couches, tables of similar materials, coverlets of purple and other colors difficult to obtain, cups made of gold and silver, some of marble or some similar material rivalling gold and silver in costliness. All these things are eagerly sought for, although a pallet furnishes us a place to lie on no worse than a silver or ivory couch, and a rough cloak is quite as suitable to cover it as a purple or crimson coverlet; it is possible for us to eat quite safely from a wooden table without longing for one of silver. Yes, and one can drink from earthenware cups which are quite as good for quenching the thirst as goblets of gold; and the wine which is poured into them is not tainted, but yields a fragrance sweeter than from cups of gold or silver. In general, one would rightly judge what is good and bad in furnishings by these three criteria: acquisition, use, and preservation. Whatever is difficult to obtain or not convenient to use or not easy to protect is to be judged inferior; but what we acquire with no difficulty and use with satisfaction and find easy to keep is superior. For this reason earthenware and iron and similar vessels are much better than those of silver or gold, because their acquisition is less trouble since they are cheaper, their usefulness is greater since we can safely expose them to heat and fire (which cannot be done with others), and guarding them is less of a problem, for the inexpensive ones are less likely to be stolen than the expensive ones. No small part of preserving them too is keeping them clean, which is a more expensive matter with costly ones. Just as a horse which is bought for a small price but is able to fulfill many needs is more desirable than one which does little although he was bought for a great price, so in the matter of furnishings the cheaper and more serviceable are better than the more costly and less serviceable ones. Why is it, then, that the rare and expensive pieces are sought after rather than those which are available and cheap? It is because the things which are really good and fine are not recognized, and in place of them those which only seem good are eagerly sought by the foolish. As madmen often think that black is white, so foolishness is next of kin to madness. Now we should find that the best lawgivers — and I think first of all of Lycurgus, whb drove extravagance out of Sparta and substituted frugality, who preferred a life of deprivation as a means of producing courage to a life of excess, and who did away with luxury as a corrupting influence and considered the will to bear hardships the salvation of the state. Testimony to this is the endurance of the Spartan ephebes, who were made accustomed to bear hunger and thirst and cold, and even blows and other hardships. Trained in such noble and austere habits the ancient Lacedaemonians were the best of the Greeks and were so esteemed. Their very poverty they caused to be more envied than the King's wealth. For my part, then, I would choose sickness rather than luxury, for sickness harms only the body, but luxury destroys both body and soul, causing weakness and impotence in the body and lack of self-control and cowardice in the soul. Furthermore, luxury begets injustice because it also begets covetousness. For no man of extravagant tastes can avoid being lavish in expenditure, nor being lavish can he wish to spend little; but in his desire for many things he cannot refrain from acquiring them, nor again in his effort to acquire can he fail to be grasping and unjust; for no man would succeed in acquiring much by just methods. In still another way the man of luxurious habits would be unjust, for he would hesitate to undertake the necessary burdens for his city without abandoning his extravagant life, and if it seemed necessary to suffer deprivation on behalf of his friends or relatives he would not submit to it, for his love of luxury would not permit it. Nay more, there are· times when duties to the gods must be undertaken by the man who would be just toward them, by performing sacrifices, initiatory rites, or some such other service. Here, too, the wastrel will be found wanting. Thus he would in all ways be unjust toward his city, toward his friends, and toward the gods, in failing to do what it is his duty to do. So, then, as being also the cause of injustice, luxury and extravagance must be shunned in every way.
He used to say that a man should cut the hair from the head for the same reason that we prune a vine, that is merely to remove what is useless. [But just as the eyebrows or eyelashes which perform a service in protecting the eyes should not be cut, so] neither should the beard be cut from the chin [for it is not superfluous], but it too has been provided for us by nature as a kind of cover or protection. Moreover, the beard is nature’s symbol of the male just as is the crest of the cock and the mane of the lion; so one ought to remove the growth of hair that becomes burdensome, but nothing of the beard; for the beard is no burden so long as the body is healthy and not afflicted with any disease for which it is necessary to cut the hair from the chin. The remark of Zeno was well made that it is quite as natural to cut the hair as it is to let it grow long, in order not to be burdened by too much of it nor hampered for any activity. For nature plainly keeps a more careful guard against deficiency than against excess, in both plants and animals, since the removal of excess is much easier and simpler than the addition of what is lacking. In both cases man’s common sense ought to assist nature, so as to make up the deficiencies as much as possible and fill them out, and to lessen and eliminate the superfluous. Therefore the hair should be cut only to get rid of too much of it and not for looks, as some think they must, who shave their cheeks and imitate the beardless or, would you believe it, boys who are just beginning to grow a beard, and the hair on the head they do not cut all in the same way, but differently in front and behind. In fact that which seems to them good-looking is quite the opposite and does not differ from the efforts of women to make themselves beautiful. For they, you know, plait some parts of their hair, some they let fall free, and some they arrange in some other way in order to appear more beautiful. So men who cut their hair are obviously doing it out of a desire to appear handsome to those whom they wish to please, and so some of their hair they cut off completely, some they arrange so as to be most pleasing to the women and boys by whom they want to be admired. Nowadays there are even men who cut their hair to free themselves of the weight of it and they also shave their cheeks. Clearly such men have become slaves of luxurious living and are completely enervated, men who can endure being seen as womanish creatures, hermaphrodites, something which real men would avoid at all costs. How could hair be a burden to men? Unless, of course, one should say that feathers are a burden to birds also.
It is not possible to live well today unless one thinks of it as his last.
What indictment can we make against tyrants when we ourselves are much worse than they? For we have the same impulses as theirs but not the same opportunity to indulge them.
If one were to measure what is agreeable by the standard of pleasure, nothing would be pleasanter than self-control; and if one were to measure what is to be avoided by pain, nothing would be more painful than lack of self-control.
Musonius said that there was no more shameful inconsistency than to recall the weakness of the body under stress of pain, but to forget it in the enjoyment of pleasure.
One begins to lose his hesitation to do unseemly things when one loses his hesitation to speak of them.
And if you choose to hold fast to what is right, do not be irked by difficult circumstances, but reflect on how many things have already happened to you in life in ways that you did not wish, and yet they have turned out for the best.
Choose to die well while it is possible, lest shortly it may become necessary for you to die, but it will no longer be possible to die well.
One who by living is of use to many has not the right to choose to die unless by dying he may be of use to more.
You will earn the respect of all men if you begin by earning the respect of yourself.
Those men do not live long who have become accustomed to say to their subjects in defense of whatever they do, not,
It is my duty, but,
It is my will.
Do not expect to enjoin right-doing upon men who are conscious of your own wrong-doing.
Toward subjects one should strive to be regarded with awe rather than with fear. Reverence attends the one, bitterness the other.
The treasures of Croesus and Cinyras we shall condemn as the last degree of poverty. One man and one alone shall we consider rich, the man who has acquired the ability to want for nothing always and everywhere.
Since the Fates have spun out the lot of death for all alike, he is blessed who dies not late but well.
And further, of the notable sayings of Musonius which come to my mind, this is one, Sulla, that those who want to be in health should spend their lives taking care of themselves. For unlike hellebore, reason should not be cast forth with the illness after it has effected a cure, but it should be allowed to remain in the soul to keep and guard the judgment. For the power of reason should not be compared to drugs but to health-giving foods, since it introduces a good and healthy frame of mind into those to whom it becomes habitual. On the other hand admonitions and warnings made when the emotions are at their greatest heat barely have any effect at all. They are not unlike those scents which revive people who have fallen in a fit but do not cure the disease.
The notorious Rutilius coming up to Musonius in Rome said,
Zeus the Savior whom you imitate and emulate does not borrow money. And Musonius with a smile answered,
Neither does he lend. For Rutilius, while lending money himself, was reproaching Musonius for borrowing.
Of the things that exist, God has put some in our control, others not in our control. In our control he has put the noblest and most excellent part by reason of which He is Himself happy, the power of using our impressions. For when this is correctly used, it means serenity, cheerfulness, constancy; it also means justice and law and self-control and virtue as a whole. But all other things He has not put in our control. Therefore we ought to become of like mind with God and, dividing things in like manner, we ought in every way to lay claim to the things that are in our control, but what is not in our control we ought to entrust to the universe and gladly yield to it whether it asks for our children, our country, our body, or anything whatsoever.
Who of us does not marvel at the action of Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian? For when he had been blinded in one eye by one of his fellow-citizens and had received the young man at the hands of the people to punish as he saw fit, he did not choose to do this, but trained him instead and made a good man of him, and afterward escorted him to the public theater. And when the Lacedaemonians regarded him with amazement, he said:
This man I received from you an insolent and violent creature; I return him to you a reasonable man and a good citizen.
But most of all the work of nature is this: to make desire and impulse to act fit closely with perception of that which is seemly and useful.
To share the common notion that we shall be despised by others if in every way we do not strive to harm the first enemies we meet is the mark of mean-minded and ignorant men. For we say that the despicable man is recognized among other things by his inability to harm his enemies, but actually he is much more easily recognized by his inability to help them.
Of such a character the nature of the cosmos was and is and will be, and it is not possible for things that come into existence to come into existence differently from the way they now do. And in this process of change and transformation, not only human beings and other creatures of earth have had a part, but also the divine beings, and even the four elements are changed and transformed upwards and downwards; that is, earth becomes water and water air, and air is again transformed into ether; and there is the same process of transformation downwards. If a man resolves to focus his thoughts on these things and persuades himself willingly to accept the inevitable, he will lead a life well measured and in harmony with the cosmos.
Thrasea was in the habit of saying,
I should rather be put to death today than be banished tomorrow. What then did Rufus say to him?
If you choose that as the heavier misfortune, what a foolish choice to make! But if as the lighter, who has given you the choice? Are you not willing to train yourself to be satisfied with what has been given you?
Why do we continue to be lazy and careless and sluggish and seek excuses for not working hard and sitting up late to perfect our mastery of logical argument?
Well, if I have made a mistake in this problem, I haven’t been guilty of killing my own father, have I? Stupid boy, shall I show you where in this instance there was a father to kill? The only possible error to make in this example you have made. Yet that was the very answer I once made to Rufus when he scolded me because I could not find the missing member in a certain syllogism.
It is not as bad, I said,
as if I had set fire to the Capitol. Whereupon he answered,
In this case, you foolish fellow, the missing member is the Capitol. Are these the only possible wrongs, burning the Capitol and killing one’s father? But using one’s impressions without purpose or profit and quite at random and failing to follow argument or demonstration or semblance of reason, and completely missing. what is to one’s advantage or disadvantage in question and answer — are none of these wrongs?
And in the same way to make trial of me, Rufus used to say,
Such and such a thing will befall you at the hands of your master. In answer to him, I said that in such a case it would be kind of him [to intercede in my behalf.]
What! he exclaimed,
Do you mean that I should intercede in your behalf when I can get the same result from you yourself? For in truth what one can get from himself it is superfluous and foolish as well to get from someone else.
It is not easy to produce an effect upon soft characters any more than it is to pick up a soft cheese with a hook, but young men of sound nature, even if you turn them away, hold to philosophy all the more. For that reason Rufus frequently discouraged pupils, using this as a means of testing the superior and inferior ones. For he used to say,
Just as a stone, even if you throw it upwards, will fall downwards because of its nature, so the superior man, the more one repels him, the more he inclines toward his own natural direction.
On the assassination of Galba someone said to Rufus,
Can you now hold that the world is ruled by divine Providence? To which he replied,
Did I ever for a moment build my argument, that the world is ruled by a divine Providence, upon Galba?
Rufus used to say,
If you have time to waste praising me, I am conscious that what I say is worth nothing. (So far from applause on our part,) he spoke in such a way that each of us sitting there felt that someone had gone to him and told him our faults, so accurately he touched upon our true characters, so effectively he placed each one’s faults before his eyes.
We have it on good authority that Musonius the philosopher [in his discourses was accustomed to deprecate and repress applause on the part of his auditors.]
When a philosopher, he said,
is exhorting, persuading, rebuking, or discussing some aspect of philosophy, if the audience pour forth trite and commonplace words of praise in their enthusiasm and unrestraint, if they even shout, if they gesticulate, if they are moved and aroused, and swayed by the charm of his words, by the rhythm of his phrases, and by certain rhetorical repetitions, then you may know that both the speaker and his audience are wasting their time, and that they are not hearing a philosopher speaking but a fluteplayer performing. The mind, he said, “of a man who is listening to a philosopher, if the things which are said are useful and helpful and furnish remedies for faults and errors, has no leisure and time for profuse and extravagant praise. The hearer, whoever he may be, unless he has completely lost his moral sense, in listening to the philosopher’s words must shudder and feel secretly ashamed and repentant, and again experience joy and wonder and even have varying facial expressions and changes of feeling as the philosopher’s speech affects him and touches his recognition of that part of his soul which is sound and that which is sick.
Moreover, he used to say that great applause and admiration are to be sure not unrelated, but that the greatest admiration yields silence rather than words. For that reason he said the wisest of poets does not have those who listened to Ulysses relating the wonderful tale of his hardships leap up and shout and cry out their approval when he finished speaking, but he says that all kept silent as if struck dumb and senseless because the pleasure they had in hearing him affected their power of speech.
Thus he spoke; but they all were hushed and silent
And were held spellbound throughout the shadowy halls.
Musonius, Herodes said,
ordered a thousand sesterces to be given to a beggar of this sort who was pretending to be a philosopher, and when several people told him that the rascal was a bad and vicious fellow, deserving of nothing good, Musonius, they say, answered with a smile,
Well then he deserves money.
When I was still a boy at school, I heard that this Greek saying, which I here set down, was uttered by Musonius the philosopher, and because the sentiment is true and striking as well as neatly and concisely rounded out, I was very happy to commit it to memory.
If one accomplishes some good though with toil, the toil passes, but the good remains; if one does something dishonorable with pleasure, the pleasure passes, but the dishonor remains.
Afterwards I read that same sentiment in a speech of Cato’s which wits delivered at Numantia to the knights. Although it is expressed a little less compactly and concisely as compared with the Greek which I have quoted, yet because it is earlier and more ancient, it may well seem more impressive. The words from his speech are the following:
Consider this in your hearts: if you accomplish some good attended with toil, the toil will quickly leave you; but if you do some evil attended with pleasure, the pleasure will quickly pass away, but the bad deed will remain with you always.
To relax (remittere) the mind, said Musonius,
is to lose (amittere) it.
Someone who was urging me to take heart quoted a saying of Musonius.
Musonius, said he,
wishing to rouse a man who was depressed and weary of life, touched him and asked, he said,
What are you waiting for, why stand you idly gazing? Until God in person shall come and stand by you and utter human speech? Cut off the dead part of your soul and you will recognize the presence of God. Such,
were the words of Musonius.
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