How are magnanimity and carefulness compatible?
1Materials are indifferent, but the use which we make of them is not a matter of indifference. 2How, therefore, shall a man maintain steadfastness and peace of mind, and at the same time the careful spirit and that which is neither reckless nor negligent? If he imitates those who play at dice. 3The counters are indifferent, the dice are indifferent; how am I to know what is going to fall? But to make a careful and skilful use of what has fallen, that is now my task. 4In like manner, therefore, the principal task in life is this: distinguish matters and weigh them one against another, and say to yourself, "Externals are not under my control; moral choice is under my control. 5Where am I to look for the good and the evil? Within me, in that which is my own." But in that which is another's never employ the words "good" or "evil," or "benefit" or "injury," or anything of the sort.
6What then? Are these externals to be used carelessly? Not at all. For this again is to the moral purpose an evil and thus unnatural to it. 7They must be used carefully, because their use is not a matter of indifference, and at the same time with steadfastness and peace of mind, because the material is indifferent. 78/i>For in whatever really concerns us, there no man can either hinder or compel me. The attainment of those things in which I can be hindered or compelled is not under my control and is neither good nor bad, but the use which I make of them is either good or bad, and that is under my control. 9It is, indeed, difficult to unite and combine these two things—the carefulness of the man who is devoted to material things and the steadfastness of the man who disregards them, but it is not impossible. Otherwise happiness were impossible. 10But we act very much as though we were on a voyage. What is possible for me? To select the helmsman, the sailors, the day, the moment. 11Then a storm comes down upon us. Very well, what further concern have I? For my part has been fulfilled. The business belongs to someone else, that is, the helmsman. 12But, more than that, the ship goes down. What, then, have I to do? What I can; that is the only thing I do; I drown without fear, neither shrieking nor crying out against God, but recognizing that what is born must also perish. 13For I am not eternal, but a man; a part of the whole, as an hour is part of a day. I must come on as the hour and like an hour pass away. 14What difference, then, is it tome how I pass away, whether by drowning or by a fever? For by something of the sort I must needs pass away.
15This is what you will see skilful ball players doing also. None of them is concerned about the ball as being something good or bad, but about throwing and catching it. 16Accordingly, form has to do with that, skill with that, and speed, and grace; where I cannot catch the ball even if I spread out my cloak, the expert catches it if I throw. 17Yet if we catch or throw the ball in a flurry or in fear, what fun is there left, and how can a man be steady, or see what comes next in the game? But one player will say "Throw!" another, "Don't throw I " and yet another, "Don't throw it up!" That, indeed, would be a strife and not a game. 18In that sense, then, Socrates knew how to play ball. How so? He knew how to play in the lawcourt. "Tell me," says he, " Anytus, what do you mean when you say that I do not believe in God. In your opinion who are the daemones? Are they not either the offspring of the gods or a hybrid race, the offspring of men and gods?" 19And when Anytus had agreed to that statement Socrates went on, "Who, then, do you think, can believe that mules exist, but not asses?" In so speaking he was like a man playing ball. And at that place and time what was the ball that he was playing with? Imprisonment, exile, drinking poison, being deprived of wife, leaving children orphans. 20These were the things with which he was playing, but none the less he played and handled the ball in good form. So ought we also to act, exhibiting the ball-player's carefulness about the game, but the same indifference about the object played with, as being a mere ball. 21For a man ought by all means to strive to show his skill in regard to some of the external materials, yet without making the material a part of himself, but merely lavishing his skill in regard to it, whatever it may be. So also the weaver does not make wool, but he lavishes his skill on whatever wool he receives. 22Another gives you sustenance and property and can likewise take them away, yes, and your paltry body itself. Do you accordingly accept the material and work it up. 23Then if you come forth without having suffered any harm, the others who meet you will congratulate you on your escape, but the man who knows how to observe such matters, if he sees that you have exhibited good form in this affair, will praise you and rejoice with you; but if he sees that you owe your escape to some dishonourable action, he will do the opposite. For where a man may rejoice with good reason, there others may rejoice with him.
24How, then, can it be said that some externals are natural, and others unnatural? It is just as if we were detached from them. For I will assert of the foot as such that it is natural for it to be clean, but if you take it as a foot, and not as a thing detached, it will be appropriate for it to step into mud and trample on thorns and sometimes to be cut off for the sake of the whole body; otherwise it will no longer be a foot. We ought to hold some such view also about ourselves. 25What are you? A man. Now if you regard yourself as a thing detached, it is natural for you to live to old age, to be rich, to enjoy health. But if you regard yourself as a man and as a part of some whole, on account of that whole it is fitting for you now to be sick, and now to make a voyage and run risks, and now to be in want, and on occasion to die before your time. Why, then, are you vexed? 26Do you not know that as the foot, if detached, will no longer be a foot, so you too, if detached, will no longer be a man? For what is a man? A part of a state; first of that slate which is made up of gods and men, and then of that which is said to be very close to the other, the state that is a small copy of the universal state. "Must I, then, be put on trial now?" 27Well, would you have someone else be sick of a fever now, someone else go on a voyage, someone else die, someone else be condemned? For it is impossible in such a body as ours, in this universe that envelops us, among these fellow-creatures of ours, that such things should not happen, some to one man and some to another. 28It is your task, therefore, to step forward and say what you should, to arrange these matters as is fitting. Then the judge says, "I adjudge you guilty." 29I reply, "May it be well with you. I have done my part; and it is for you to see whether you have done yours." For the judge too runs a risk, do not forget that.
1 Cf. Menander in the Adelphoe of Terence, 740 f.:
Si illud quod maxume opus est iacta non cadit,
niad quod cecidit forte, id arte at corrigas.
2 A variety of ball-playing among the Greeks consisted in tossing the ball back and forth between partners or teammates (often in response to a call, Plutarch, Alex. 39, 3), while their opponents tried to get the ball away (Galen, de Parvae Pilae Exerdtio, 2), somewhat as in the American games Keep-away and Basket-ball. An interesting series of calls used in the game is given by Antiphanes in Athenaeus, I. I5a, one of which, ανώ, "Up!", may be the short form of the positive of the call given in the text here. On the ball-teams at Sparta see M. X. Tod, Annual of the British School at Athens, 1903—i, 63 ff. Possibly one might read αναβάλη, "Don't wait!" or "Don't stall!" which would fit the context admirably, although the use of βάλλω in different senses within the same sentence would appear rather strange.
3 A term originally used of any spiritual power, and in early Greek often of the greatest gods, but in classical and Hellenistic times coming generally to be restricted to spiritual essences of a lower rank. There is no adequate English word which can be used in translation.
4 A free paraphrase of the argument in Plato's Apology, 26e ff., obviously from memory, for the questions were put by Socrates, not to Anytus, but to Meletus.—Socrates had been charged with denying the existence of the gods, but at the same time introducing new daemons. If, however, daemones are merely offspring of gods, then it is impossible that both charges could be true of any sane man.
5 That is, God.
6 That is, things which are natural for the part of a whole to endure, appear unnatural, if that same part regards itself as a separate and independent entity.
7 That is, existing separate and per se. 244