“No, it is events that give rise to fear — when another has power over them or can prevent them, that person becomes able to inspire fear. How is the fortress destroyed? Not by iron or fire, but by judgments… here is where we must begin, and it is from this front that we must seize the fortress and throw out the tyrants.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.1.85-86; 87a
Author Ryan Holiday helps us understand that the fortress mentioned by Epictetus in today’s quote from The Daily Stoic is actually a very specific stoic philosophical construct, referred to as the “Inner Citadel”.
It’s the idea of a fortress around our soul that shields it, and protects us. We are vulnerable to the outside world, and to the whims of fortune, but our fortress is impenetrable.
The only way our fortress can be invaded is from within. That is to say, it can only be conquered if we allow it to be conquered from the inside.
This can come from weakness of spirit, or from giving in to baser desires in shallow pursuit of pleasure. Or, our fortress can be conquered if we surrender to fear. But it can only come from the inside, it can’t be conquered by external forces.
So take refuge in your inner fortress, safe in the knowledge that it can’t be destroyed unless you allow it to be.