Epictetus, from The Handbook


The unthoughtful never look
at themselves as the source of
their own help or harm but rather

blame everyone and everything else.

The thoughtful, however, look to
themselves as the source
of help and of harm.

People bettering themselves
censure no one,
praise no one,
blame no one,
accuse no one;

they do not describe themselves
as being anybody or knowing anything.

When they are thwarted or restrained,
they accuse themselves;
and if they are praised,
they smile to themselves;

if anyone finds fault,
the wise are not defensive.

They move like a convalescent,
careful not to interfere with anything
that is going well but
is not yet quite there.

They restrain desire;
they transfer their aversions
to only those things that
interfere with their will;

they employ energies
in moderation but
in all directions. If
they look stupid,
they don’t care.

In other words,
they watch themselves
like an enemy.

They watch like
one in ambush.


One thought on “Epictetus, from The Handbook

  1. David, It seems to me that Epictetus is a primeval Scandinavian. He’s unhapppy with praise. So sad. Mary

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