Ὅ τί ποτε τοῦτό εἰμι, σαρκία ἐστὶ καὶ πνευμάτιον καὶ τὸ ἡγεμονικόν. ἄφες τὰ βιβλία· μηκέτι σπῶ· οὐ δέδοται. ἀλλ’ ὡς ἤδη ἀποθνήσκων τῶν μὲν σαρκίων καταφρόνησον· λύθρος καὶ ὀστάρια καὶ κροκύφαντος, ἐκ νεύρων, φλεβίων, ἀρτηριῶν πλεγμάτιον. θέασαι δὲ καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα, ὁποῖόν τί ἐστιν· ἄνεμος· οὐδὲ ἀεὶ τὸ αὐτό,ἀλλὰ πάσης ὥρας ἐξεμούμενον καὶ πάλιν ῥοφούμενον. τρίτον οὖν ἐστὶ τὸ ἡγεμονικόν. ὧδε ἐπινοήθητι· γέρων εἶ· μηκέτι τοῦτο ἐάσῃς δουλεῦσαι, μηκέτι καθ’ ὁρμὴν ἀκοινώτητον νευροσπαστηθῆναι, μηκέτι τὸ εἱμαρμένον ἢ παρὸν δυσχερᾶναι ἢ μέλλον ἀποδύρεσθαι.
(Marcus Aurelius, Ta eis heauton 2.2)
What makes up this being of mine is flesh, and a bit of breath and the ruling centre. Put down your books—do not distract yourself with them any more; that is not granted to you. As if you were on the point of death, despise the flesh—just blood, bones, and the network of nerves, veins, and arteries. Consider what sort of thing breath is: a stream of air, and not always the same, but at each moment belched out and drawn in again. The third part of you is the ruling centre. Look at it this way: you are an old man; no longer allow this part of you to be enslaved any more; no longer allow it to be tugged this way and that like a puppet by each unsociable motive; no longer allow it to be discontented with its present fate or to flinch from its future one. (tr. Christopher Gill)
Πάσης ὥρας φρόντιζε στιβαρῶς, ὡς Ῥωμαῖος καὶ ἄρρην, τὸ ἐν χερσὶ μετὰ τῆς ἀκριβοῦς καὶ ἀπλάστου σεμνότητος καὶ φιλοστοργίας καὶ ἐλευθερίας καὶ δικαιότητος πράσσειν· καὶ σχολὴν σαυτῷ ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἄλλων φαντασιῶν πορίζειν. ποριεῖς δέ, ἂν ὡς ἐσχάτην τοῦ βίου ἑκάστην πρᾶξιν ἐνεργῇς ἀπηλλαγμένην πάσης εἰκαιότητος καὶ ἐμπαθοῦς ἀποστροφῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ αἱροῦντος λόγου καὶ ὑποκρίσεως καὶ φιλαυτίας καὶ δυσαρεστήσεως πρὸς τὰ συμμεμοιραμένα.
(Marcus Aurelius, Ta eis heauton 2.5.1-2)
At every hour, give your full concentration, as a Roman and a man, to carrying out the task in hand with a scrupulous and unaffected dignity and affectionate concern for others and freedom and justice, and give yourself space from all other concerns. You will give yourself this if you carry out each act as if it were the last of your life, freed from all randomness and passionate deviation from the rule of reason and from pretence and self- love and dissatisfaction with what has been allotted to you. (tr. Christopher Gill)
Μὴ κατατρίψῃς τὸ ὑπολειπόμενον τοῦ βίου μέρος ἐν ταῖς περὶ ἑτέρων φαντασίαις, ὁπόταν μὴ τὴν ἀναφορὰν ἐπί τι κοινωφελὲς ποιῇ. ἤτοι γὰρ ἄλλου ἔργου στέρῃ, τουτέστι φανταζόμενος τί ὁ δεῖνα πράσσει καὶ τίνος ἕνεκεν καὶ τί λέγει καὶ τί ἐνθυμεῖται καὶ τί τεχνάζεται καὶ ὅσα τοιαῦτα ποιεῖ ἀπορρέμβεσθαι τῆς τοῦ ἰδίου ἡγεμονικοῦ παρατηρήσεως.
(Marcus Aurelius, Ta eis heauton 3.4.1)
Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people – unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You’ll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and what they’re up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind. (tr. Gregory Hays)