Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings

Fear is the cause -not exile. To many people, even to most, despite living safely in their home city, fear of what seem to them the dire consequences of free speech is present. The courageous, in exile or at home, is fearless in the face of all such threats; for that reason they've the courage to say what they think equally at home or in exile.

Food from plants of the earth is natural for us, grains and those which though not cereals can nourish humans well-also food (other than meat) from domesticated animals. The most useful foods are those which can be used immediately without fire-since they are also most easily available-fruits in season, some green vegetables, milk, cheese, and honey.

For mankind, evil is injustice and cruelty and indifference to a neighbour’s trouble, while virtue is brotherly love and goodness and justice and beneficence and concern for the welfare of your neighbour—with

For what does the man who accepts insult do that is wrong? It is the doer of wrong who puts themselves to shame-the sensible man wouldn't go to the law, since he wouldn't even consider that he had been insulted! Besides, to be annoyed or angered about such things would be petty-instead easily and silently bear what has happened, since this is appropriate for those whose purpose is to be noble-minded.

Generally speaking, if you devote yourself to the life of philosophy, whilst tilling the land at the same time, I couldn’t compare it to any other way of life, nor would I prefer any other livelihood. It is living more in accord with nature-drawing your sustenance directly from the earth-the nurse and mother of us all-rather than from another source.

Humanity must seek what is NOT simple and obvious using the simple and obvious.

Husband and wife should come together to craft a shared life, procreating children, seeing all things as shared between them-with nothing withheld or private to one another-not even their bodies. The birth of a human being which results from this union is, to be sure, something wonderful-but it isn't yet enough to account for the relationship of husband and wife-since even outside marriage it could result from any other sexual union ( just as in the case of animals). So, in marriage there must be, above all, perfect companionship and mutual love - both in sickness, health and under all conditions-it should be with desire for this (and children) that both entered upon marriage.

If we were to measure what is good by how much pleasure it brings, nothing would be better than self-control- if we were to measure what is to be avoided by its pain, nothing would be more painful than lack of self-control

It is widely held that we'll be despised by others if we don't try hard to hurt the first enemies we meet-this is the mark of cold-hearted, ignorant individuals. We say that the detestable person is recognized (among other things) by their inability to harm their enemies-actually, they are much more easily recognized by their inability to help them.

Just as plants receive nourishment for survival, not pleasure-for humans, food is the medicine of life. Therefore it is appropriate for us to eat for living, not pleasure, especially if we want to follow the wise words of Socrates, who said most men live to eat: I eat to live

Most of all, teachers shouldn't only be speakers of helpful words, but their actions should be consistent with them. The pupil's duty is to attend pro-actively to what is said, and to be on guard in case they accept something false without thinking.

Others have been in poor health from overindulgence and high living, before exile has provided strength, forcing them to live a more vigorous life.

The best livelihood (particularly for the strong) is earning a living from the soil, whether you own your land or not. Many can support their families by farming land owned by the state or private landowners. Some even get rich through hard work with their own hands. The earth repays those who cultivate her, both justly and well , multiplying what she received – endowing in abundance all the necessities of life to anyone willing to work-and all this without violating your dignity or self-respect!

The home or the city doesn't depend on women or men alone, but on their union with each other-I find no other association more necessary nor more pleasant than that of men and women. For what man is as devoted to his friend as much as a loving wife is to her husband? What brother to a brother? What son to his parents? Who is as longed for as a husband by his wife, or a wife by her husband, when the other is away. Who would do more to lighten grief or increase joy or correct misfortune? Who judges everything to be shared-body, soul, and possessions-except man and wife? For these reasons, we all consider the love of man and wife to be the highest form of love-no reasonable mother or father would expect to entertain a deeper love for their own child than for the one joined to him in marriage.

Thus it appears that exile helps, rather than hinders body and spirit, by treating them better than they treat themselves.

Thus whoever destroys human marriage destroys the home, the city-the whole human race.

To accept injury without a spirit of savage resentment-to show ourselves merciful toward those who wrong us-being a source of good hope to them-is characteristic of a benevolent and civilized way of life.

To help us to cheerfully endure those hardships which we may expect to suffer because of virtue and goodness, it is useful to recall what hardships people will endure for immoral reasons. Consider what lustful lovers undergo for the sake of evil desires-and how much exertion others expend for the sake of profit-how much suffering pursuing fame - bear in mind that they all submit to all kinds of toil and hardship voluntarily. It’s monstrous that they endure such things for no honourable reward, yet for the sake of the good (not only the avoidance of evil that wrecks our lives-also the gain of virtue) we're not ready to bear the slightest hardship.

To many people, even to most, despite living safely in their home city, fear of what seem to them the dire consequences of free speech is present. The courageous, in exile or at home, is fearless in the face of all such threats; for that reason they've the courage to say what they think equally at home or in exile.

wealth is able to buy the pleasures of eating, drinking and other sensual pursuits-yet can never afford a cheerful spirit or freedom from sorrow.

We begin to lose our hesitation to do immoral things when we lose our hesitation to speak of them.

What good are gilded rooms or precious stones-fitted on the floor, inlaid in the walls, carried from great distances at the greatest expense? These things are pointless and unnecessary-without them isn't it possible to live healthy? Aren't they the source of constant trouble? Don't they cost vast sums of money that, through public and private charity, may have benefited many?

Who would be a more suitable leader of a city or more worthy to rule over people than a philosopher? It is appropriate for him (if he really is a philosopher) to be wise, self-controlled, magnanimous, a judge of just and proper things, able to accomplish what he sets out to do, and able to endure pain. In addition to these things, he should be bold, fearless, able to face things that seem terrible, and also a benefactor, honest, and humane.

You will earn the respect of all if you begin by earning the respect of yourself. Don't expect to encourage good deeds in people conscious of your own misdeeds.