Shaken from what?

Ought you not first to have acquired something by the use of reason, and then to have made that secure? But you are studying to be able to prove things in argument. Prove what, though? You are studying so as not to be shaken by fallacious arguments. Shaken from what? Show me first what you are watching over, what you are measuring, or what you are weighing; and then, accordingly, show me your balance.

~ Epictetus



As if all was safe and well with you, you have dwelt upon the final area of study, which has to do with unchangeability, so that you can make yourself unchageable—in what? Your cowardice, means-spiritedness, admiration for the rich, your failure to achieve what you desire, and your lack of success in avoiding what you want to avoid. These are the things that you have been laboring to secure.

~ Epictetus


Strive with your reason

Furthermore, when your imagination gnaws at you (for that is something outside your control), strive against it with your reason, subjugate it, do not allow it to gain strength, nor to advance to the next stage of picturing what it wants as it wants.

~ Epictetus


Proper training

What, then, is the proper training for this? Firstly, the highest and principal form of training, and one that stands, so to speak, right at the entrance way to the enterprise, is, that when you become attached to something, let it not be as though it were to something that cannot be taken away, but rather, as though it were to something like an earthenware pot or crystal goblet, so that if it happens to be broken, you may remember, what kind of thing it was, and not be distressed.

~ Epictetus


What room for an abject mind?

When you have acquired a contempt for things that are external and lie outside the sphere of choice, and have come to regard none of them as your own, but only this as your own, to judge and think aright, and exercise your impulses, desires and aversions aright, what further room is there after that for flattery, what room for an abject mind?

~ Epictetus


Men who are mortal

But what if my friends there should die? What else could that signify except that men who are mortal have died? Do you at once wish to live to be old, and yet not to see the death of any one you love? Do you not know that, in a long course of time, many and various events must necessarily happen? That a fever must get the better of one person, a highwayman of another, a tyrant of a third?

~ Epictetus


The security of your condition

Somebody has arrived from Rome. “I only hope there is no bad news.” Why, what harm can happen to you when you are not there? — Somebody has arrived from Greece. “I only hope there is no bad news.” Why, at this rate, every place can be the cause of misfortune to you. Is it not enough for you to be unfortunate where you are, but must you be unhappy on the other side of the sea also, and by letter? Such is the security of your condition!

~ Epictetus


One great city

…the world is one great city, and the substance out of which it is formed is single, and there must necessarily be a cycle of change, in which one thing gives way to another, and some things are destroyed and others come into being, and some things remain where they were and others are moved.

~ Epictetus


The school is a surgery

The school of a philosopher is a surgery. You should not depart from it in pleasure, but in pain, for you are not healthy when you come in, but one of you has a dislocated shoulder, another an abscess, another a fistula, another a headache. And am I to come up with pretty thoughts and reflections, so that each of you will go away praising me, but with the same dislocated shoulder, the same aching head, the same fistula, and the same abscess that you brought in?

~ Epictetus


Then act accordingly

First tell yourself what sort of man you want to be; then act accordingly in all you do. For in almost everything else we see this to be the practice. Athletes first determine what kind of athlete they want to be, and then act accordingly. … You will find the same in the arts. If you are a carpenter, you will have these procedures, if a blacksmith, those. For, if we do not refer each of our actions to some standard, we shall be acting at random; if to an improper standard, we shall fail utterly.

~ Epictetus