You cannot hope to be a scholar. But what you can do is to curb arrogance; what you can do is to rise above pleasures and pains; you can be superior to the lure of popularity; you can keep your temper with the foolish and ungrateful, yes, even care for them.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.8)
Photo by Gary Ellis on Unsplash
Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor (and many other books), posts a list of forthcoming Stoicism events.
The first is the Marcus Aurelius Anniversary conference, in honour of Marcus’ 1,900th birthday.
The events are virtual, which removes another excuse for not attending. I also see that recording will be available later for donating attendees.
More information, here.
Disaster is virtue’s opportunity.
Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), On Providence (iv 4-6)
The rough clothes, the rank growth of hair and beard, the sworn hatred of silverware, the pallet laid on the ground: all these and any other perverse form of self-aggrandisement are things you should avoid…
The life we endeavour to live should be better than the general practice, not contrary to it…
Philosophy demands self-restraint, not self-abnegation – and even self-restraint can comb its hair.
Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (5.2 – 5.5)
Worth a re-post in these locked down times.
A person is alive when he is of use to many; he is alive when he is of use to himself. Slackers who hide out at home might as well be in the tomb. Go ahead and write it in marble above their door:
Preceded in death by themselves.
Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (60.4)
A bull is filled up by only a few acres of pasturage; a single wood suffices for more than one elephant; yet a human being feeds upon land and sea. Why is that? Has nature given us such an insatiable maw that although the bodies we are given are of modest size, we yet surpass the largest, most ravenous eaters of the animal world? That is not the case … It is not bodily hunger that runs up the bill but ambition. Therefore let us regard those who, as Sallust says, “heed the belly” as belonging to the race of animals rather than of humans.
Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (60.2 – 4)
Why make ourselves worse than little children? When they are left alone, what do they do? They gather up shards and dust and build something or other, then tear it down and build something else again; and so they are never at a loss as to how to spend their time. Am I, then, if you set sail, to sit down and cry because I am left alone and forlorn in that fashion? Shan’t I have shards, shan’t I have dust?
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (3.13)
Note: the above translation comes from the very fine Daily Stoic newsletter.
It was common to refer to philosophy itself as a medicine or therapy (therapeia) for the psyche, the soul or mind.
Here’s an interesting article from Donald Robertson (cognitive psychotherapist and author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor) on Marcus Aurelius, Stoicism and the roots of cognitive behavioural therapy: Marcus Aurelius in Therapy.
Continue reading “Stoicism and psychotherapy – @DonJRobertson”
We find ourselves in vexed and vexatious times. Let it go.
Stop fretting and stressing over things you can’t control.
It isn’t the things themselves that disturb people, but the judgements that they form about them.Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (5)
Continue reading “Let it go – ancient advice for modern times”
When you’ve decided that you ought to do something and are doing it, never try to avoid being seen to do it, even if most people will probably view it with disapproval; for if it isn’t right to do it, avoid doing it in the first place, but if it is, why be afraid of those who’ll reproach you without justification.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (35)