The Enchiridion - Part 12

This one gets a bit convoluted, but it also has two of my favourite lines.

If you intend to improve, throw away such thoughts as these: if I neglect my affairs, I shall not have the means of living; unless I chastise my slave, he will be bad. For it is better to die of hunger and so to be released from grief and fear than to live in abundance with perturbation; and it is better for your slave to be bad than for you to be unhappy.

Again we have an example of the dichotomy of control, applied to every day (ancient Roman) life. Worrying about how to make a living will distract you from your path, as will attempting to control other people. Even, in this example, people who are as close as possible to being in your control.

I adore the line it is better for your slave to be bad than for you to be unhappy. It is simple, yet cuts to the heart of Stoicism.

Begin then from little things. Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion: "at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquillity, but nothing is got for nothing".

And now the regular practical advice. Start small. When something irritates you, remind your self that these things are the price you pay for peace.

Again, the line at such price is sold tranquillity, but nothing is got for nothing really resonates with me. Tranquillity does not just turn up on your doorstep; you must sacrifice control to get it.

And when you call your slave, consider that it is possible that he does not hear; and if he does hear, that he will do nothing which you wish. But matters are not so well with him, but altogether well with you, that it should be in his power for you to be not disturbed.

This echos part 4: when you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is. The last line is a bit of a jumble. I think what it's saying is: your slave may be frustrated at his inability to disturb you, but that is how you should want it to be. Open to suggestions on that one though.

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