The strength of a man’s virtue must not be measured by his efforts, but by his ordinary life.
I do not admire the excess of a virtue as of valour, except I see at the same time the excess of the opposite virtue, as in Epaminondas, who had the greatest valour and the greatest kindness. For otherwise it is not to rise, it is to fall. We do not display greatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once, and filling all the intervening space. But perhaps this is only a sudden movement of the soul from one to the other extreme, and in fact it is ever at one point only, as in the case of a firebrand. Be it so, but at least this indicates agility if not expanse of soul.
Man’s nature is not always to advance; it has its advances and retreats.
Fever has its cold and hot fits; and the cold proves as well as the hot the greatness of the fire of fever.
The discoveries of men from age to age turn out the same. The kindness and the malice of the world in general are the same. Plerumque gratae principibus vices.
Continuous eloquence wearies.
Princes and kings sometimes play. They are not always on their thrones. They weary there. Grandeur must be abandoned to be appreciated. Continuity in everything is unpleasant. Cold is agreeable, that we may get warm.
Nature acts by progress, itus et reditus. It goes and returns, then advances further, then twice as much backwards, then more forward than ever, etc.
The tide of the sea behaves in the same manner; and so apparently does the sun in its course.
The nourishment of the body is little by little. Fullness of nourishment and smallness of substance.
When we would pursue virtues to their extremes on either side, vices present themselves, which insinuate themselves insensibly there, in their insensible journey towards the infinitely little: and vices present themselves in a crowd towards the infinitely great, so that we lose ourselves in them, and no longer see virtues. We find fault with perfection itself.
Man is neither angel nor brute, and the unfortunate thing is that he who would act the angel acts the brute.
We do not sustain ourselves in virtue by our own strength, but by the balancing of two opposed vices, just as we remain upright amidst two contrary gales. Remove one of the vices, and we fall into the other.
What the Stoics propose is so difficult and foolish!
The Stoics lay down that all those who are not at the high degree of wisdom are equally foolish and vicious, as those who are two inches under water.
The sovereign good. Dispute about the sovereign good.—Ut sis contentus temetipso et ex te nascentibus bonis. There is a contradiction, for in the end they advise suicide. Oh! What a happy life, from which we are to free ourselves as from the plague!