Τρία ταῦτα δεῖ πρόχειρα ἔχειν· ἐπὶ μὲν ὧν ποιεῖς, μήτε εἰκῇ μήτε ἄλλως ἢ ὡς ἂν ἡ Δίκη αὐτὴ ἐνήργησεν· ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν ἔξωθεν συμβαινόντων, ὅτι ἤτοι κατ ἐπιτυχίαν ἢ κατὰ πρόνοιαν· οὔτε δὲ τῇ ἐπιτυχίᾳ μεμπτέον οὔτε τῇ προνοίᾳ ἐγκλητέον. δεύτερον τό· ὁποῖον ἕκαστον ἀπὸ σπέρματος μέχρι ψυχώσεως καὶ ἀπὸ ψυχώσεως μέχρι τοῦ τὴν ψυχὴν ἀποδοῦναι καὶ ἐξ οἵων ἡ σύγκρισις καὶ εἰς οἷα ἡ λύσις. τρίτον εἰ ἄφνω μετέωρος ἐξαρθεὶς κατασκέψαιο τὰ ἀνθρώπεια καὶ τὴν πολυτροπίαν κατανοήσαις, ὅτι καταφρονήσεις συνιδὼν ἅμα καὶ ὅσον τὸ περιοικοῦν ἐναερίων καὶ ἐναιθερίων· καὶ ὅτι, ὁσάκις ἂν ἐξαρθῇς, ταὐτὰ ὄψῃ· τὸ ὁμοειδές, τὸ ὀλιγοχρόνιον· ἐπὶ τούτοις ὁ τῦφος.
(Marcus Aurelius, Ta eis heauton 12.24)

Three thoughts  to keep at hand. First, in your own actions, nothing aimless or other than Justice herself would have done; in external happenings either chance or providence is at work, and one should not blame chance or dict providence. Second: the nature of each of us from conception to the first breath of soul, and from that first breath to the surrender of our soul; what elements form our constitution and will be the result of our dissolution. Third: that if you were suddenly lifted up to a great height and could look down on human activity and see all its variety, you would despise it because your view would take in also the great surrounding host of spirits who populate the air and the sky; and that however many times you were lifted up, you would see the same things – monotony and transience. Such are the objects of our conceit. (tr. Martin Hammond)


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