Bion of Borysthenes

An excerpt from Teles of Megera’s Discourse on Self-Sufficiency, talking about the Cynic attitude toward hardship.

But we always blame anything other than our own perversity and bad nature, accusing old age, poverty, circumstances, the day, the hour, the place, and Diogenes [the Cynic] thus claimed to have heard the voice of Vice accusing herself and saying, ‘No one other than I myself are to blame for all these ills.’  Most people, however, are lacking in sense and ascribe the blame not to themselves but to things outside.  It is like the bite that one can get when one takes hold of a wild beast, says Bion [of Borysthenes]; if you grasp a snake by its middle, you will get bitten, but if you seize it by the head, nothing bad will happen to you.  And likewise, he says, the pain that you may suffer as a result of things outside yourself depends on how you apprehend them, and if you apprehend them in the same way as Socrates, you will feel no pain, but if you take them in any other way, you will suffer, not on account of any of the things themselves, but of your own character and false opinions. – Teles of Megara’s Discourse on Self-Sufficiency

(Translated by Robin Hard.)

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