Epictetus, Discourses

LCL 131: 122-123

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Book I.18

these men rob us. For, mark you, stop admiring58 your clothes, and you are not angry at the man who steals them; stop admiring your wife’s beauty, and you are not angry at her adulterer. Know that a thief or an adulterer has no place among the things that are your own, but only among the things that are another’s and that are not under your control. If you give these things up and count them as nothing, at whom have you still ground to feel angry? But so long as you admire these things, be angry at yourself and not at the men that I have just mentioned. For consider; you have fine clothes and your neighbour does not; you have a window and wish to air them. He does not know wherein the true good of man consists, but fancies that it consists in having fine clothes, the very same fancy that you also entertain. Shall he not come, then, and carry them off? Why, when you show a cake to gluttonous men and then gulp it down all to yourself, are you not wanting them to snatch it? Stop provoking them, stop having a window, stop airing your clothes.

Something similar happened to me also the other day. I keep an iron lamp by the side of my household gods, and, on hearing a noise at the window, I ran down. I found that the lamp had been stolen. I reflected that the man who stole it was moved by no unreasonable motive. What then? To-morrow, I say, you will find one of earthenware. Indeed, a man loses only that which he already has. “I have lost my cloak.” Yes, for you had a cloak. “I have a pain in my head.” You don’t have a pain in your horns, do you? Why, then, are you indignant? For our losses and our pains have to do only with the things which we possess.

“But the tyrant will chain—“ What? Your leg. “But he will cut off—“ What? Your neck. What, then, will he neither

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.epictetus-discourses.1925