The Rule of Musonius: A Rule of Life for the Stoic Prokopton

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The Rule of Musonius is a Rule of Life, a foundational principle which can be used by the Stoic προκόπτων to help train so he or she can regulate their life conformably to nature.  The Rule is made up of two parts:  The Seven Precepts, and Three Τόποι; ten parts which form both sides of the training of a philosopher.  Musonius notes that there are two kinds of training, the training of body and soul together, and of soul alone.  The Precepts and Τόποι cover these, respectively.



The Seven Precepts of Musonius

If you accomplπροish something good with hard work, the labor passes quickly, but the good endures; if you do something shameful in pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure passes quickly, but the shame endures.”

— Musonius, Fragment 51

  1. To speak plainly, and true.

    We take it upon ourselves to speak truly, in the spirit of παρρησία, and with virtue in mind in the spirit of Musonius’ Lecture I in regards to speech.   [Read more…]

  2. To prefer practice to theory alone.

    We take it upon ourselves to practice what we learn, for it is the stronger of the two. We take it upon ourselves to follow the prescriptions laid out in Musonius’ Lectures V and Lecture VI in regards to practice.    [Read more…]

  3. To eat no animal-flesh, with moderation and simply.

    We take it upon ourselves to eat no animal-flesh, but those things produced by animals are acceptable.  We take it upon ourselves to eat for health, with self-control (σωφροσύνη), and according to our nature. We take it upon ourselves to train to follow the prescriptions laid out in Musonius’ Lectures XVIII A and XVIII B in regards to food and drink.     [Read more…]

  4. To dress simply, for protection of the body, and without vanity.

    We take it upon ourselves to dress for the minimum protection of the body and for modesty, and not for fancy fashions or mere proclivity. We take it upon ourselves to follow the prescriptions laid out in Musonius’ Lecture XIX and Lecture XX in regards to clothing, furnishings, and coverings.     [Read more…]

  5. To cut not the beard, and the hair only to remove what is useless.

    We men take it upon ourselves to leave the beard, nature’s symbol of the male as it is formed by Nature. All of the προκόπτωντες take it upon ourselves to only cut the other hair as necessity and utility may demand, not for fashion nor to appear beautiful in the eyes of others. We take it upon ourselves to follow the prescriptions laid out in Musonius’ Lecture XXI in regards to the cutting of hair.      [Read more…]

  6. To strengthen the body and soul through cold and heat, thirst and hunger, scarcity of food and hardness of bed, and abstaining from pleasure and enduing pain.

    We take it upon ourselves to experience austerity, that we might become more wise, more just, more temperate, and more courageous. We take it upon ourselves to follow the prescriptions laid out in Musonius’ Lecture VI and Lecture VII in regards to training and austerities.     [Read more…]

  7. To use sex only for virtuous purposes, and within the confines of fidelity.

    We take it upon ourselves to use our sexual faculties with kindness and virtue. We take it upon ourselves to follow the prescriptions laid out in Musonius’ Lecture XII, Lectures XIII A and XIII B, Lecture XIV, and Lecture XV in regards to family life.     [Read more…]


 

The Three Τόποι of Epictetus

“There are three areas of study, in which a person who is going to be good and noble must be trained. That concerning desires and aversions, so that he may never fail to get what he desires nor fall into what he would avoid. That concerning the impulse to act and not to act, and, in general, appropriate behaviour; so that he may act in an orderly manner and after due consideration, and not carelessly. The third is concerned with freedom from deception and hasty judgement, and, in general, whatever is connected with assent.”

— Epictetus, Discourses 3.2.1–2.

  1. The Discipline of Assent.
    We study and exercise ourselves in the Discipline of Assent that we may keep our προαίρεσις in a state conformable to nature.

  2. The Discipline of Desire.

    We study and exercise ourselves in the Discipline of Desire and Aversions that we may be desirous of true goods, averse to true evils, and not be caught up in apparent goods and evils.

  3. The Discipline of Action.

    We study and exercise ourselves in the Discipline of Action and Inaction that we may fulfill our duties by undertaking action with justice, self-discipline, courage, and practical wisdom; and that we may also through inaction avoid every mean and vicious thing.

 

 


 

Additional Reading:  The Lectures and Fragments of Musonius Rufus.

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