There are some things which are unable to hurt us, and whose power is exclusively beneficial and salutary, as, for example, the immortal gods, who neither wish nor are able to do harm: for their temperament is naturally gentle and tranquil, and no more likely to wrong others than to wrong themselves.
Foolish people who know not the truth hold them answerable for storms at sea, excessive rain, and long winters, whereas all the while these phenomena by which we suffer or profit take place without any reference whatever to us: it is not for our sake that the universe causes summer and winter to succeed one another; these have a law of their own, according to which their divine functions are performed.
We think too much of ourselves, when we imagine that we are worthy to have such prodigious revolutions effected for our sake: so, then, none of these things take place in order to do us an injury, nay, on the contrary, they all tend to our benefit.
I have said that there are some things which cannot hurt us, and some which would not.
To the latter class belong good men in authority, good parents, teachers, and judges, whose punishments ought to be submitted to by us in the same spirit in which we undergo the surgeon’s knife, abstinence from food, and suchlike things which hurt us for our benefit.
Suppose that we are being punished; let us think not only of what we suffer, but of what we have done: let us sit in judgement on our past life.
Provided we are willing to tell ourselves the truth, we shall certainly decide that our crimes deserve a harder measure than they have received.