Epictetus, the Discourses as reported by Arrian, the Manual, and Fragments/Book 1
IN FOUR BOOKS
Chapters of the First Book
|I.||Of the things which are under our control and not under our control.|
|II.||How may a man preserve his proper character upon every occasion?|
|III.||From the thesis that God is the Father of mankind, how may one proceed to the consequences?|
|V.||Against the Academics.|
|VII.||Of the use of equivocal premisses, hypothetical arguments, and the like.|
|VIII.||That the reasoning faculties, in the case of the uneducated, are not free from error.|
|IX.||How from the thesis that we are akin to God may one proceed to the consequence?|
|X.||To those who have set their hearts upon preferment at Rome.|
|XI.||Of family affection.|
|XIII.||How may each several thing be done acceptably to the gods?|
|XIV.||That the Deity oversees all men.|
|XVII.||That the art of reasoning is indispensable.|
|XVIII.||That we ought not to be angry with the erring.|
|XIX.||How ought we to bear ourselves towards tyrants?|
|XX.||How does the reasoning faculty contemplate itself?|
|XXI.||To those who would be admired.|
|XXIII.||In answer to Epicurus.|
|XXIV.||How should we struggle against difficulties?|
|XXV.||Upon the same theme.|
|XXVI.||What is the rule of life?|
|XXVII.||In how many ways do the external impressions arise, and what aids should we have ready at hand to meet them?|
|XXVIII.||That we ought not to be angry with men; and what are the little things and the great among men?|
|XXX.||What aid ought we have at hand in difficulties?|
Arrian to Lucius Gellius, greeting:
I have not composed these Words of Epictetus as one might be said to "compose" books of this kind, nor have I of my own act published them to the world; indeed, I acknowledge that I have not "composed" them at all. But whatever I heard him say I used to write down, word for word, as best I could, endeavouring to preserve it as a memorial, for my own future use, of his way of thinking and the frankness of his speech. They are, accordingly, as you might expect, such remarks as one man might make off-hand to another, not such as he would compose for men to read in after time. This being their character, they have fallen, I know not how, without my will or knowledge, into the hands of men. Yet to me it is a matter of small concern if I shall be thought incapable of "composing" a work, and to Epictetus of no concern at all if anyone shall despise his words, seeing that even when he uttered them he was clearly aiming at nothing else but to incite the minds of his hearers to the best things. If, now, these words of his should produce that same effect, they would have, I think, just that success which the words of the philosophers ought to have; but if not, let those who read them be assured of this, that when Epictetus himself spoke them, the hearer could not help but feel exactly what Epictetus wanted him to feel. If, however, the words by themselves do not produce this effect, perhaps I am at fault, or else, perhaps, it cannot well be otherwise. Farewell.
Of the things which are under our control and not under our control
Among the arts and faculties in general you will find none that is self-contemplative, and therefore none that is either self-approving or self-disapproving. How far does the art of grammar possess the power of contemplation? Only so far as to pass judgement upon what is written. How far the art of music? Only so far as to pass judgement upon the melody. Does either of them, then, contemplate itself? Not at all. But if you are writing to a friend and are at a loss as to what to write, the art of grammar will tell you; yet whether or no you are to write to your friend at all, the art of grammar will not tell. The same holds true of the art of music with regard to melodies; but whether you are at this moment to sing and play on the lyre, or neither sing nor play, it will not tell. What art or faculty, then, will tell? That one which contemplates both itself and everything else. And what is this? The reasoning faculty; for this is the only one we have inherited which will take knowledge both of itself—what it is, and of what it is capable, and how valuable a gift it is to us—and likewise of all the other faculties. For what else is it that tells us gold is beautiful? For the gold itself does not tell us. Clearly it is the faculty which makes use of external impressions. What else judges with discernment the art of music, the art of grammar, the other arts and faculties, passing judgement upon their uses and pointing out the seasonable occasions for their use? Nothing else does.
As was fitting, therefore, the gods have put under our control only the most excellent faculty of all and that which dominates the rest, namely, the power to make correct use of external impressions, but all the others they have not put under our control. Was it indeed because they would not? I for one think that had they been able they would have entrusted us with the others also; but they were quite unable to do that. For since we are upon earth and trammelled by an earthy body and by earthy associates, how was it possible that, in respect of them, we should not be hampered by external things?
But what says Zeus? "Epictetus, had it been possible I should have made both this paltry body and this small estate of thine free and unhampered. But as it is—let it not escape thee—this body is not thine own, but only clay cunningly compounded. Yet since I could not give thee this, we have given thee a certain portion of ourself, this faculty of choice and refusal, of desire and aversion, or, in a word, the faculty which makes use of external impressions; if thou care for this and place all that thou hast therein, thou shalt never be thwarted, never hampered, shalt not groan, shalt not blame, shalt not flatter any man. What then? Are these things small in thy sight?" "Far be it from me!" "Art thou, then, content with them?" "I pray the Gods I may be."
But now, although it is in our power to care for one thing only and devote ourselves to but one, we choose rather to care for many things, and to be tied fast to many, even to our body and our estate and brother and friend and child and slave. Wherefore, being tied fast to many things, we are burdened and dragged down by them. That is why, if the weather keeps us from sailing, we sit down and fidget and keep constantly peering about. "What wind is blowing?" we ask. Boreas. "What have we to do with it? When will Zephyrus blow?" When it pleases, good sir, or rather when Aeolus pleases. For God has not made you steward of the winds, but Aeolus. "What then?" We must make the best of what is under our control, and take the rest as its nature is. "How, then, is its nature?" As God wills.
"Must I, then, be the only one to be beheaded now?" Why, did you want everybody to be beheaded for your consolation? Are you not willing to stretch out your neck as did a certain Lateranus at Rome, when Nero ordered him to be beheaded? For he stretched out his neck and received the blow, but, as it was a feeble one, he shrank back for an instant, and then stretched out his neck again. Yes, and before that, when Epaphroditus, a freedman of Nero, approached a certain man and asked about the ground of his offence, he answered, "If I wish anything, I will speak to your master."
"What aid, then, must we have ready at hand in such circumstances?" Why, what else than the knowledge of what is mine, and what is not mine, and what is permitted me, and what is not permitted me? I must die: must I, then, die groaning too? I must be fettered: and wailing too? I must go into exile: does anyone, then, keep me from going with a smile and cheerful and serene? "Tell your secrets." I say not a word; for this is under my control. "But I will fetter you." What is that you say, man? fetter me? My leg you will fetter, but my moral purpose not even Zeus himself has power to overcome. "I will throw you into prison." My paltry body, rather! "I will behead you." Well, when did I ever tell you that mine was the only neck that could not be severed? These are the lessons that philosophers ought to rehearse, these they ought to write down daily, in these they ought to exercise themselves.
Thrasea used to say: "I would rather be killed to-day than banished to-morrow." What, then, did Rufus say to him? "If you choose death as the heavier of two misfortunes, what folly of choice! But if as the lighter, who has given you the choice? Are you not willing to practise contentment with what has been given you?"
Wherefore, what was it that Agrippinus used to remark? "I am not standing in my own way." Word was brought him, "Your case is being tried in the Senate."—"Good luck betide! But it is the fifth hour now" (he was in the habit of taking his exercise and then a cold bath at that hour); "let us be off and take our exercise." After he had finished his exercise someone came and told him, "You have been condemned."—"To exile," says he, "or to death?"—"To exile."—"What about my property?"—"It has not been confiscated."—"Well then, let us go to Aricia and take our lunch there." This is what it means to have rehearsed the lessons one ought to rehearse, to have set desire and aversion free from every hindrance and made them proof against chance. I must die. If forthwith, I die; and if a little later, I will take lunch now, since the hour for lunch has come, and afterwards I will die at the appointed time. How? As becomes the man who is giving back that which was another's.
How may a man preserve his proper character upon every occasion?
To the rational being only the irrational is unendurable, but the rational is endurable. Blows are not by nature unendurable.—How so?—Observe how: Lacedaemonians take a scourging once they have learned that it is rational.—But is it not unendurable to be hanged?—Hardly; at all events whenever a man feels that it is rational he goes and hangs himself. In short, if we observe, we shall find mankind distressed by nothing so much as by the irrational, and again attracted to nothing so much as to the rational.
Now it so happens that the rational and the irrational are different for different persons, precisely as good and evil, and the profitable and the unprofitable, are different for different persons. It is for this reason especially that we need education, so as to learn how, in conformity with nature, to adapt to specific instances our preconceived idea of what is rational and what is irrational. But for determining the rational and the irrational, we employ not only our estimates of the value of external things, but also the criterion of that which is in keeping with one's own character. For to one man it is reasonable to hold a chamber-pot for another, since he considers only that, if he does not hold it, he will get a beating and will not get food, whereas, if he does hold it, nothing harsh or painful will be done to him; but some other man feels that it is not merely unendurable to hold such a pot himself, but even to tolerate another's doing so. If you ask me, then, "Shall I hold the pot or not?" I will tell you that to get food is of greater value than not to get it, and to be flayed is of greater detriment than not to be; so that if you measure your interests by these standards, go and hold the pot. "Yes, but it would be unworthy of me." That is an additional consideration, which you, and not I, must introduce into the question. For you are the one that knows yourself, how much you are worth in your own eyes and at what price you sell yourself. For different men sell themselves at different prices.
Wherefore, when Florus was debating whether he should enter Nero's festival, so as to make some personal contribution to it, Agrippinus said to him, "Enter." And when Florus asked, "Why do you not enter yourself?" he replied, "I? why, I do not even raise the question." For when a man once stoops to the consideration of such questions, I mean to estimating the value of externals, and calculates them one by one, he comes very close to those who have forgotten their own proper character. Come, what is this you ask me? "Is death or life preferable?" I answer, life. "Pain or pleasure?" I answer, pleasure. "But unless I take a part in the tragedy I shall be beheaded." Go, then, and take a part, but I will not take a part. "Why not?" Because you regard yourself as but a single thread of all that go to make up the garment. What follows, then? This, that you ought to take thought how you may resemble all other men, precisely as even the single thread wants to have no point of superiority in comparison with the other threads. But I want to be the red, that small and brilliant portion which causes the rest to appear comely and beautiful. Why, then, do you say to me, "Be like the majority of people?" And if I do that, how shall I any longer be the red?
This is what Helvidius Priscus also saw, and, having seen, did. When Vespasian sent him word not to attend a meeting of the Senate, he answered, "It is in your power not to allow me to be a member of the Senate, but so long as I am one I must attend its meetings." "Very well then, but when you attend, hold your peace." "Do not ask for my opinion and I will hold my peace." "But I must ask for your opinion." "And I must answer what seems to me right." "But if you speak, I shall put you to death." "Well, when did I ever tell you that I was immortal? You will do your part and I mine. It is yours to put me to death, mine to die without a tremor; yours to banish, mine to leave without sorrow." What good, then, did Priscus do, who was but a single individual? And what good does the red do the mantle? What else than that it stands out conspicuous in it as red, and is displayed as a goodly example to the rest? But had Caesar told another man in such circumstances not to attend the meetings of the Senate, he would have said, "I thank you for excusing me." A man like that Caesar would not even have tried to keep from attending, but would have known that he would either sit like a jug, or, if he spoke, would say what he knew Caesar wanted said, and would pile up any amount more on the top of it.
In like manner also a certain athlete acted, who was in danger of dying unless his private parts were amputated. His brother (and he was a philosopher) came to him and said, "Well, brother, what are you going to do? Are we going to cut off this member, and step forth once more into the gymnasium?" He would not submit, but hardened his heart and died. And as someone asked, "How did he do this? As an athlete, or as a philosopher?" As a man, replied Epictetus; and as a man who had been proclaimed at the Olympic games and had striven in them, who had been at home in such places, and had not merely been rubbed down with oil in Bato's wrestling school. But another would have had even his neck cut off, if he could have lived without his neck. This is what we mean by regard for one's proper character; and such is its strength with those who in their deliberations habitually make it a personal contribution. "Come then, Epictetus, shave off your beard." If I am a philosopher, I answer, "I will not shave it off" "But I will take off your neck." If that will do you any good, take it off.
Someone inquired, "How, then, shall each of us become aware of what is appropriate to his own proper character?" How comes it, replied he, that when the lion charges, the bull alone is aware of his own prowess and rushes forward to defend the whole herd? Or is it clear that with the possession of the prowess comes immediately the consciousness of it also? And so, among us too, whoever has such prowess will not be unaware of it. Yet a bull does not become a bull all at once, any more than a man becomes noble, but a man must undergo a winter training, he must prepare himself and must not plunge recklessly into what is inappropriate for him.
Only consider at what price you sell your freedom of will. If you must sell it, man, at least do not sell it cheap. But the great and pre-eminent deed, perhaps, befits others, Socrates and men of his stamp.—Why then, pray, if we are endowed by nature for such greatness, do not all men, or many, become like him? What, do all horses become swift, all dogs keen to follow the scent? What then? Because I have no natural gifts, shall I on that account give up my discipline? Far be it from me! Epictetus will not be better than Socrates; but if only I am not worse, that suffices me. For I shall not be a Milo, either, and yet I do not neglect my body; nor a Croesus, and yet I do not neglect my property; nor, in a word, is there any other field in which we give up the appropriate discipline merely from despair of attaining the highest.
From the thesis that God is the father of mankind how may one proceed to the consequences?
If a man could only subscribe heart and soul, as he ought, to this doctrine, that we are all primarily begotten of God, and that God is the father of men as well as of gods, I think that he will entertain no ignoble or mean thought about himself. Yet, if Caesar adopts you no one will be able to endure your conceit, but if you know that you are a son of Zeus, will you not be elated? As it is, however, we are not, but inasmuch as these two elements were comingled in our begetting, on the one hand the body, which we have in common with the brutes, and, on the other, reason and intelligence, which we have in common with the gods, some of us incline toward the former relationship, which is unblessed by fortune and is mortal, and only a few toward that which is divine and blessed. Since, then, it is inevitable that every man, whoever he be, should deal with each thing according to the opinion which he forms about it, these few, who think that by their birth they are called to fidelity, to self-respect, and to unerring judgement in the use of external impressions, cherish no mean or ignoble thoughts about themselves, whereas the multitude do quite the opposite. "For what am I? A miserable, paltry man," say they, and, "Lo, my wretched, paltry flesh!" Wretched indeed, but you have also something better than your paltry flesh. Why then abandon that and cleave to this?
It is because of this kinship with the flesh that those of us who incline toward it become like wolves, faithless and treacherous and hurtful, and others like lions, wild and savage and untamed; but most of us become foxes, that is to say, rascals of the animal kingdom. For what else is a slanderous and malicious man but a fox, or something even more rascally and degraded? Take heed, therefore, and beware that you become not one of these rascally creatures.
He who is making progress, having learned of the philosophers that desire is for things good and aversion is toward things evil, and having also learned that serenity and calm are not attained by a man save as he succeeds in securing the objects of desire and as he avoids encountering the objects of aversion—such a one has utterly excluded desire from himself, or else deferred it to another time, and feels aversion only toward the things which involve freedom of choice. For if he avoids anything that is not a matter of free choice, he knows that some time he will encounter something in spite of his aversion to it, and will come to grief. Now if it is virtue that holds out the promise thus to create happiness and calm and serenity, then assuredly progress toward virtue is progress toward each of these states of mind. For it is always true that whatsoever the goal toward which perfection in anything definitely leads, progress is an approach thereto.
How comes it, then, that we acknowledge virtue to be a thing of this sort, and yet seek progress and make a display of it in other things? What is the work of virtue? Serenity. Who, then, is making progress? The man who has read many treatises of Chrysippus? What, is virtue no more than this—to have gained a knowledge of Chrysippus? For if it is this, progress is confessedly nothing else than a knowledge of many of the works of Chrysippus. But now, while acknowledging that virtue produces one thing, we are declaring that the approach to virtue, which is progress, produces something else. "So-and-so," says someone, "is already able to read Chrysippus all by himself." It is fine headway, by the gods, that you are making, man! Great progress this! "Why do you mock him? And why do you try to divert him from the consciousness of his own shortcomings? Are you not willing to show him the work of virtue, that he may learn where to look for his progress?" Look for it there, wretch, where your work lies. And where is your work? In desire and aversion, that you may not miss what you desire and encounter what you would avoid; in choice and in refusal, that you may commit no fault therein; in giving and withholding assent of judgement, that you may not be deceived. But first come the first and most necessary points. Yet if you are in a state of fear and grief when you seek to be proof against encountering what you would avoid, how, pray, are you making progress?
Do you yourself show me, therefore, your own progress in matters like the following. Suppose, for example, that in talking to an athlete I said, "Show me your shoulders," and then he answered, "Look at my jumping-weights." Go to, you and your jumping-weights! What I want to see is the effect of the jumping-weights. "Take the treatise Upon Choice and see how I have mastered it." It is not that I am looking into, you slave, but how you act in your choices and refusals, your desires and aversions, how you go at things, and apply yourself to them, and prepare yourself, whether you are acting in harmony with nature therein, or out of harmony with it. For if you are acting in harmony, show me that, and I will tell you that you are making progress; but if out of harmony, begone, and do not confine yourself to expounding your books, but go and write some of the same kind yourself. And what will you gain thereby? Do you not know that the whole book costs only five denarii? Is the expounder of it, then, think you, worth more than five denarii? And so never look for your work in one place and your progress in another.
Where, then, is progress? If any man among you, withdrawing from external things, has turned his attention to the question of his own moral purpose, cultivating and perfecting it so as to make it finally harmonious with nature, elevated, free, unhindered, untrammelled, faithful, and honourable; and if he has learned that he who craves or shuns the things that are not under his control can be neither faithful nor free, but must himself of necessity be changed and tossed to and fro with them, and must end by subordinating himself to others, those, namely, who are able to procure or prevent these things that he craves or shuns; and if, finally, when he rises in the morning he proceeds to keep and observe all this that he has learned; if he bathes as a faithful man, eats as a self-respecting man,—similarly, whatever the subject matter may be with which he has to deal, putting into practice his guiding principles, as the runner does when he applies the principles of running, and the voice-trainer when he applies the principles of voice-training,—this is the man who in all truth is making progress, and the man who has not travelled at random is this one. But if he has striven merely to attain the state which he finds in his books and works only at that, and has made that the goal of his travels, I bid him go home at once and not neglect his concerns there, since the goal to which he has travelled is nothing; but not so that other goal—to study how a man may rid his life of sorrows and lamentations, and of such cries as "Woe is me!" and "Wretch that I am!" and of misfortune and failure, and to learn the meaning of death, exile, prison, hemlock; that he may be able to say in prison, "Dear Crito, if so it pleases the gods, so be it," rather than, "Alas, poor me, an old man, it is for this that I have kept my grey hairs!" Who says such things? Do you think that I will name you some man held in small esteem and of low degree? Does not Priam say it? Does not Oedipus? Nay more, all kings say it! For what are tragedies but the portrayal in tragic verse of the sufferings of men who have admired things external? If indeed one had to be deceived into learning that among things external and independent of our free choice none concerns us, I, for my part, should consent to a deception which would result in my living thereafter serenely and without turmoil; but as for you, you will yourselves see to your own preference.
What, then, does Chrysippus furnish us? "That you may know," he says, "that these things are not false from which serenity arises and tranquillity comes to us, take my books and you shall know how conformable and harmonious with nature are the things which render me tranquil." O the great good fortune! O the great benefactor who points the way! To Triptolemus, indeed, all men have established shrines and altars, because he gave us as food the fruits of cultivation, but to him who has discovered, and brought to light, and imparted to all men the truth which deals, not with mere life, but with a good life,—who among you has for that set up an altar in his honour, or dedicated a temple or a statue, or bows down to God in gratitude for him? But because the gods have given us the vine or wheat, for that do we make sacrifice, and yet because they have brought forth such a fruit in a human mind, whereby they purposed to show us the truth touching happiness, shall we fail to render thanks unto God for this?
Against the Academics
If a man, says Epictetus, resists truths that are all too evident, in opposing him it is not easy to find an argument by which one may cause him to change his opinion. The reason for this is neither the man's ability nor the teacher's weakness; nay, when a man who has been trapped in an argument hardens to stone, how shall one any longer deal with him by argument?
Now there are two kinds of petrifaction: one is the petrifaction of the intellect, the other of the sense of shame, when a man stands in array, prepared neither to assent to manifest truths nor to leave the fighting line. Most of us dread the deadening of the body and would resort to all means so as to avoid falling into such a state, but about the deadening of the soul we care not at all. Indeed, by Zeus, even in the case of the soul itself, if a man be in such a state that he cannot follow an argument step by step, or even understand one, we regard him too as being in a bad way; but if a man's sense of shame and self-respect be deadened, this we go so far as to call strength of character!
Do your senses tell you that you are awake? "No," he answers, "any more than they do when in dreams I have the impression that I am awake." Is there, then, no difference between these two impressions? "None." Can I argue with this man any longer? And what cautery or lancet shall I apply to him, to make him realize that he is deadened? He does realize it, but pretends that he does not; he is even worse than a corpse. One man does not notice the contradiction—he is in a bad way; another man notices it, indeed, but is not moved and does not improve—he is in a still worse state. His self-respect and sense of shame have been lopped off, and his reasoning faculty has been—I will not say cut away, but brutalized. Am I to call this strength of character? Far from it, unless I am so to describe the strength that lewd fellows have, which enables them to say and do in public anything that comes into their heads.
From everything that happens in the universe it is easy for a man to find occasion to praise providence, if he has within himself these two qualities: the faculty of taking a comprehensive view of what has happened in each individual instance, and the sense of gratitude. Otherwise, one man will not see the usefulness of what has happened, and another, even if he does see it, will not be grateful therefor. If God had made colours, but had not made the faculty of seeing them, of what good had it been?—None at all.—But, conversely, if He had made the faculty, but in making objects, had made them incapable of falling under the faculty of vision, in that case also of what good had it been?—None at all.—What then, if He had even made both of these, but had not made light?—Even thus it would have been of no use.—Who is it, then, that has fitted this to that and that to this? And who is it that has fitted the sword to the scabbard, and the scabbard to the sword? No one? Assuredly from the very structure of all made objects we are accustomed to prove that the work is certainly the product of some artificer, and has not been constructed at random.
Does, then, every such work reveal its artificer, but do visible objects and vision and light not reveal him? And the male and the female, and the passion of each for intercourse with the other, and the faculty which makes use of the organs which have been constructed for this purpose, do these things not reveal their artificer either? Well, admit it for these things; but the marvellous constitution of the intellect whereby, when we meet with sensible objects, we do not merely have their forms impressed upon us, but also make a selection from among them, and subtract and add, and make these various combinations by using them, yes, and, by Zeus, pass from some things to certain others which are in a manner related to them—is not even all this sufficient to stir our friends and induce them not to leave the artificer out of account? Else let them explain to us what it is that produces each of these results, or how it is possible that objects so wonderful and so workmanlike should come into being at random and spontaneously.
What then? Is it in the case of man alone that these things occur? You will, indeed, find many things in man only, things of which the rational animal had a peculiar need, but you will also find many possessed by us in common with the irrational animals. Do they also, then, understand what happens? No! for use is one thing, and understanding another. God had need of the animals in that they make use of external impressions, and of us in that we understand the use of external impressions. And so for them it is sufficient to eat and drink and rest and procreate, and whatever else of the things within their own province the animals severally do; while for us, to whom He has made the additional gift of the faculty of understanding, these things are no longer sufficient, but unless we act appropriately, and methodically, and in conformity each with his own nature and constitution, we shall no longer achieve our own ends. For of beings whose constitutions are different, the works and the ends are likewise different. So for the being whose constitution is adapted to use only, mere use is sufficient, but where a being has also the faculty of understanding the use, unless the principle of propriety be added, he will never attain his end. What then? Each of the animals God constitutes, one to be eaten, another to serve in farming, another to produce cheese, and yet another for some other similar use; to perform these functions what need have they to understand external impressions and to be able to differentiate between them? But God has brought man into the world to be a spectator of Himself and of His works, and not merely a spectator, but also an interpreter. Wherefore, it is shameful for man to begin and end just where the irrational animals do; he should rather begin where they do, but end where nature has ended in dealing with us. Now she did not end until she reached contemplation and understanding and a manner of life harmonious with nature. Take heed, therefore, lest you die without ever having been spectators of these things.
But you travel to Olympia to behold the work of Pheidias, and each of you regards it as a misfortune to die without seeing such sights; yet when there is no need to travel at all, but where Zeus is already, and is present in his works, will you not yearn to behold these works and know them? Will you decline, therefore, to perceive either who you are, or for what you have been born, or what that purpose is for which you have received sight?—But some unpleasant and hard things happen in life.—And do they not happen at Olympia? Do you not swelter? Are you not cramped and crowded? Do you not bathe with discomfort? Are you not drenched whenever it rains? Do you not have your fill of tumult and shouting and other annoyances? But I fancy that you hear and endure all this by balancing it off against the memorable character of the spectacle. Come, have you not received faculties that enable you to bear whatever happens? Have you not received magnanimity? Have you not received courage? Have you not received endurance? And what care I longer for anything that may happen, if I be magnanimous? What shall perturb me, or trouble me, or seem grievous to me? Shall I fail to use my faculty to that end for which I have received it, but grieve and lament over events that occur?
"Yes, but my nose is running." What have you hands for, then, slave? Is it not that you may wipe your nose? "Is it reasonable, then, that there should be running noses in the world?"—And how much better it would be for you to wipe your nose than to find fault! Or what do you think Heracles would have amounted to, if there had not been a lion like the one which he encountered, and a hydra, and a stag, and a boar, and wicked and brutal men, whom he made it his business to drive out and clear away? And what would he have been doing had nothing of the sort existed? Is it not clear that he would have rolled himself up in a blanket and slept? In the first place, then, he would never have become Heracles by slumbering away his whole life in such luxury and ease; but even if he had, of what good would he have been? What would have been the use of those arms of his and of his prowess in general, and his steadfastness and nobility, had not such circumstances and occasions roused and exercised him? What then? Ought he to have prepared these for himself, and sought to bring a lion into his own country from somewhere or other, and a boar, and a hydra? This would have been folly and madness. But since they did exist and were found in the world, they were serviceable as a means of revealing and exercising our Heracles.
Come then, do you also, now that you are aware of these things, contemplate the faculties which you have, and, after contemplating, say: "Bring now, O Zeus, what difficulty Thou wilt; for I have an equipment given to me by Thee, and resources wherewith to distinguish myself by making use of the things that come to pass," But no, you sit trembling for fear something will happen, and lamenting, and grieving, and groaning about other things that are happening. And then you blame the gods! For what else can be the consequence of so ignoble a spirit but sheer impiety? And yet God has not merely given us these faculties, to enable us to bear all that happens without being degraded or crushed thereby, but—as became a good king and in very truth a father—He has given them to us free from all restraint, compulsion, hindrance; He has put the whole matter under our control without reserving even for Himself any power to prevent or hinder. Although you have these faculties free and entirely your own, you do not use them, nor do you realize what gifts you have received, and from whom, but you sit sorrowing and groaning, some of you blinded toward the giver himself and not even acknowledging your benefactor, and others,—such is their ignoble spirit—turning aside to fault-finding and complaints against God. And yet, though I can show you that you have resources and endowment for magnanimity and courage, do you, pray, show me what resources you have to justify faultfinding and complaining!
Of the use of equivocal premisses, hypothetical arguments and the like
Most men are unaware that the handling of arguments which involve equivocal and hypothetical premisses, and, further, of those which derive syllogisms by the process of interrogation, and, in general, the handling of all such arguments, has a bearing upon the duties of life. For our aim in every matter of inquiry is to learn how the good and excellent man may find the appropriate course through it and the appropriate way of conducting himself in it. Let them say, then, either that the good man will not enter the contest of question and answer, or that, once he has entered, he will be at no pains to avoid conducting himself carelessly and at haphazard in question and answer; or else, if they accept neither of these alternatives, they must admit that some investigation should be made of those topics with which question and answer are principally concerned.
For what is the professed object of reasoning? To state the true, to eliminate the false, to suspend judgement in doubtful cases. Is it enough, then, to learn this alone?—It is enough, says one.—Is it, then, also enough for the man who wants to make no mistake in the use of money to be told the reason why you accept genuine drachmas and reject the counterfeit?—It is not enough.—What, then, must be added to this? Why, what else but the faculty that tests the genuine drachmas and the counterfeit and distinguishes between them? Wherefore, in reasoning also the spoken word is not enough, is it? On the contrary, is it not necessary to develop the power of testing the true and the false and the uncertain and of distinguishing between them?—It is necessary.—What else besides this is proposed in reasoning? Pray accept the consequence of what you have properly granted. Come, is it enough, then, in this case also merely to know that this particular thing is true? It is not enough, but one must learn in what way a thing follows as a consequence upon certain other things, and how sometimes one thing follows upon one, and at other times upon several conjointly. Is it not, then, necessary that a man should also acquire this power, if he is to acquit himself intelligently in argument, and is himself not only to prove each point when he tries to prove it, but also to follow the argument of those who are conducting a proof, and is not to be misled by men who quibble as though they were proving something? There has consequently arisen among us, and shown itself to be necessary, a science which deals with inferential arguments and with logical figures and trains men therein.
But of course there are times when we have with sound reasoning granted the premisses, and the inference from them is so-and-so; and, in spite of its being false, it is none the less the inference. What, then, should I do? Accept the fallacy? And how is that possible? Well, should I say, "It was not sound reasoning for me to grant the premisses"? Nay, but this is not permissible either. Or, "This does not follow from what has been granted"? But that is not permissible, either. What, then, must be done in these circumstances? Is it not this, that the fact of having borrowed is not enough to prove that one is still in debt, but we must add the circumstance that one abides by the loan—that is, has not paid it—and just so our having once granted the premisses is not enough to compel us to accept the inference, but we must abide by our acceptance of the premisses? And what is more, if the premisses remain until the end what they were when they were granted, there is every necessity for us to abide by our acceptance of them, and to allow the conclusion that has been drawn from them; . . . for from our point of view and to our way of thinking this inference does not now result from the premisses, since we have withdrawn from our previous assent to the premisses. It is necessary, therefore, to enquire into premisses of this kind and into such change and equivocal modification of them, whereby, at the very moment the question is put, or the answer made, or the deduction drawn, or at some other similar stage in the argument, the premisses take on modified meanings and give occasion to the unthinking to be disconcerted, if they do not see what follows in consequence. Why is it necessary? In order that in this matter we may not behave unsuitably, nor at haphazard, nor confusedly.
And the same holds true of hypotheses and hypothetical arguments. For it is necessary at times to postulate some hypothesis as a sort of stepping-stone for the subsequent argument. Are we, therefore, to grant any and every hypothesis that is proposed, or not every one? And if not every one, what one? And when a man has granted an hypothesis, must he abide for ever by it and maintain it, or are there times when he should abandon it and accept only the consequences which follow from it without accepting those which are opposed to it?—Yes.—But someone says, "If you once admit an hypothesis that involves a possibility, I will compel you to be drawn on to an impossibility." Shall the prudent man refuse to engage with this person, and avoid enquiry and discussion with him? Yet who but the prudent is capable of using argument and skilful in question and answer, and, by Zeus, proof against deceit and sophistic fallacies? But shall he argue, indeed, and then not take pains to avoid conducting himself recklessly and at haphazard in argument? And if he does not, how will he any longer be the sort of man we think he is? But without some such exercise and preparation in formal reasoning, how will he be able to maintain the continuity of the argument? Let them show that he will be able, and all these speculations become mere superfluity; they were absurd and inconsistent with our preconception of the good man.
Why are we still indolent and easy-going and sluggish, seeking excuses whereby we may avoid toiling or even late hours, as we try to perfect our own reason?—If, then, I err in these matters, I have not murdered my own father, have I?—Slave, pray where was there in this case a father for you to murder? What, then, have you done, you ask? You have committed what was the only possible error in the matter. Indeed this is the very remark I made to Rufus when he censured me for not discovering the one omission in a certain syllogism. "Well," said I, "it isn't as bad as if I had burned down the Capitol." But he answered, "Slave, the omission here is the Capitol." Or are there no other errors than setting fire to the Capitol and murdering one's father? But to make a reckless and foolish and haphazard use of the external impressions that come to one, to fail to follow an argument, or demonstration, or sophism—in a word, to fail to see in question and answer what is consistent with one's position or inconsistent—is none of these things an error?
That the reasoning faculties, in the case of the uneducated, are not free from error
In as many ways as it is possible to vary the meaning of equivalent terms, in so many ways may a man also vary the forms of his controversial arguments and of his enthymemes in reasoning. Take this syllogism, for instance: If you have borrowed and have not repaid, you owe me the money; now you have not borrowed and have not repaid; therefore you do not owe me the money. And no man is better fitted to employ such variations skilfully than the philosopher. For if, indeed, the enthymeme is an incomplete syllogism, it is clear that he who has been exercised in the perfect syllogism would be no less competent to deal with the imperfect also.
Why, then, do we neglect to exercise ourselves and one another in this way? Because, even now, without receiving exercise in these matters, or even being, by me at least, diverted from the study of morality, we nevertheless make no progress toward the beautiful and the good. What, therefore, must we expect, if we should take on this occupation also? And especially since it would not merely be an additional occupation to draw us away from those which are more necessary, but would also be an exceptional excuse for conceit and vanity. For great is the power of argumentation and persuasive reasoning, and especially if it should enjoy excessive exercise and receive likewise a certain additional ornament from language. The reason is that, in general, every faculty which is acquired by the uneducated and the weak is dangerous for them, as being apt to make them conceited and puffed up over it. For by what device might one any longer persuade a young man who excels in these faculties to make them an appendage to himself instead of his becoming an appendage to them? Does he not trample all these reasons under foot, and strut about in our presence, all conceited and puffed up, much less submitting if any one by way of reproof reminds him of what he lacks and wherein he has gone astray?
What then? Was not Plato a philosopher? Yes, and was not Hippocrates a physician? But you see how eloquently Hippocrates expresses himself. Does Hippocrates, then, express himself so eloquently by virtue of his being a physician? Why, then, do you confuse things that for no particular reason have been combined in the same man? Now if Plato was handsome and strong, ought I to sit down and strive to become handsome, or become strong, on the assumption that this is necessary for philosophy, because a certain philosopher was at the same time both handsome and a philosopher? Are you not willing to observe and distinguish just what that is by virtue of which men become philosophers, and what qualities pertain to them for no particular reason? Come now, if I were a philosopher, ought you to become lame like me? What then? Am I depriving you of these faculties? Far be it from me! No more than I am depriving you of the faculty of sight. Yet, if you enquire of me what is man's good, I can give you no other answer than that it is a kind of moral purpose.
How from the thesis that we are akin to God may a man proceed to the consequences?
If what is said by the philosophers regarding the kinship of God and men be true, what other course remains for men but that which Socrates took when asked to what country he belonged, never to say "I am an Athenian," or "I am a Corinthian," but "I am a citizen of the universe"? For why do you say that you are an Athenian, instead of mentioning merely that corner into which your paltry body was cast at birth? Or is it clear you take the place which has a higher degree of authority and comprehends not merely that corner of yours, but also your family and, in a word, the source from which your race has come, your ancestors down to yourself, and from some such entity call yourself "Athenian," or "Corinthian"? Well, then, anyone who has attentively studied the administration of the universe and has learned that "the greatest and most authoritative and most comprehensive of all governments is this one, which is composed of men and God, and that from Him have descended the seeds of being, not merely to my father or to my grandfather, but to all things that are begotten and that grow upon earth, and chiefly to rational beings, seeing that by nature it is theirs alone to have communion in the society of God, being intertwined with him through the reason,"—why should not such a man call himself a citizen of the universe? Why should he not call himself a son of God? And why shall he fear anything that, happens among men? What? Shall kinship with Caesar or any other of them that have great power at Rome be sufficient to enable men to live securely, proof against contempt, and in fear of nothing whatsoever, but to have God as our maker, and father, and guardian,—shall this not suffice to deliver us from griefs and fears?—And wherewithal shall I be fed, asks one, if I have nothing?—And how of slaves, how of runaways, on what do they rely when they leave their masters? On their lands, their slaves, or their vessels of silver? No, on nothing but themselves; and nevertheless food does not fail them. And shall it be necessary for our philosopher, forsooth, when he goes abroad, to depend upon others for his assurance and his refreshment, instead of taking care of himself, and to be more vile and craven than the irrational animals, every one of which is sufficient to himself, and lacks neither its own proper food nor that way of life which is appropriate to it and in harmony with nature?
As for me, I think that the elder man ought not to be sitting here devising how to keep you from thinking too meanly of yourselves or from taking in your debates a mean or ignoble position regarding yourselves; he should rather be striving to prevent there being among you any young men of such a sort that, when once they have realized their kinship to the gods and that we have these fetters as it were fastened upon us,—the body and its possessions, and whatever things on their account are necessary to us for the management of life, and our tarrying therein,—they may desire to throw aside all these things as burdensome and vexatious and unprofitable and depart to their kindred. And this is the struggle in which your teacher and trainer, if he really amounted to anything, ought to be engaged; you, for your part, would come to him saying: "Epictetus, we can no longer endure to be imprisoned with this paltry body, giving it food and drink, and resting and cleansing it, and, to crown all, being on its account brought into contact with these people and those. Are not these things indifferent—indeed, nothing—to us? And is not death no evil? And are we not in a manner akin to God, and have we not come from Him? Suffer us to go back whence we came; suffer us to be freed at last from these fetters that are fastened to us and weigh us down. Here are despoilers and thieves, and courts of law, and those who are called tyrants; they think that thev have some power over us because of the paltry body and its possessions. Suffer us to show them that they have power over no one." And thereupon it were my part to say: "Men, wait upon God. When He shall give the signal and set you free from this service, then shall you depart to Him; but for the present endure to abide in this place, where He has stationed you. Short indeed is this time of your abiding here, and easy to bear for men of your convictions. For what tyrant, or what thief, or what courts of law are any longer formidable to those who have thus set at naught the body and its possessions? Stay, nor be so unrational as to depart."
Some such instruction should be given by the teacher to the youth of good natural parts. But what happens now? A corpse is your teacher and corpses are you. As soon as you have fed your fill to-day, you sit lamenting about the morrow, wherewithal you shall be fed. Slave, if you get it, you will have it; if you do not get it, you will depart; the door stands open. Why grieve? Where is there yet room for tears? What occasion longer for flattery? Why shall one man envy another? Why shall he admire those who have great possessions, or those who are stationed in places of power, especially if they be both strong and prone to anger? For what will they do to us? As for what they have power to do, we shall pay no heed thereto; as for the things we care about, over them they have no power. Who, then, will ever again be ruler over the man who is thus disposed?
How did Socrates feel with regard to these matters? Why, how else than as that man ought to feel who has been convinced that he is akin to the gods? "If you tell me now," says he, "'We will acquit you on these conditions, namely, that you will no longer engage in these discussions which you have conducted hitherto, nor trouble either the young or the old among us,' I will answer, 'You make yourselves ridiculous by thinking that, if your general had stationed me at any post, I ought to hold and maintain it and choose rather to die ten thousand times than to desert it, but if God has stationed us in some place and in some manner of life we ought to desert that.'" This is what it means for a man to be in very truth a kinsman of the gods. We, however, think of ourselves as though we were mere bellies, entrails, and genitals, just because we have fear, because we have appetite, and we flatter those who have power to help us in these matters, and these same men we fear.
A certain man asked me to write to Rome in his behalf. Now he had met with what most men account misfortune: though he had formerly been eminent and wealthy, he had afterwards lost everything and was living here. And I wrote in humble terms in his behalf. But when he had read the letter he handed it back to me, and said, "I wanted your help, not your pity; my plight is not an evil one." So likewise Rufus was wont to say, to test me, "Your master is going to do such-and-such a thing to you." And when I would say in answer. "'Tis but the lot of man," he would reply. "What then? Am I to go on and petition him, when I can get the same result from you?" For, in fact, it is foolish and superfluous to try to obtain from another that which one can get from oneself. Since, therefore, I am able to get greatness of soul and nobility of character from myself, am I to get a farm, and money, or some office, from you? Far from it! I will not be so unaware of what I myself possess. But when a man is cowardly and abject, what else can one possibly do but write letters in his behalf as we do in behalf of a corpse: "Please to grant us the carcase of so-and-so and a pint of paltry blood?" For really, such a person is but a carcase and a pint of paltry blood, and nothing more. But if he were anything more he would perceive that one man is not unfortunate because of another.
To those who have set their hearts on preferment at Rome
If we philosophers had applied ourselves to our own work as zealously as the old men at Rome have applied themselves to the matters on which they have set their hearts, perhaps we too should be accomplishing something. I know a man older than myself who is now in charge of the grain supply at Rome. When he passed this place on his way back from exile, I recall what a tale he told as he inveighed against his former life and announced for the future that, when he had returned to Rome, he would devote himself solely to spending the remainder of his life in peace and quiet, "For how little is yet left to me!"—And I told him, "You will not do it, but when once you have caught no more than a whiff of Rome you will forget all this." And if also admission to court should be granted, I added that he would rejoice, thank God and push his way in.—"If you find me, Epictetus," said he, "putting so much as one foot inside the court, think of me what you will." Well, now, what did he do? Before he reached Rome, letters from Caesar met him; and as soon as he received them, he forgot all those resolutions of his, and ever since he has been piling up one property after another. I wish I could stand by his side now and remind him of the words that he uttered as he passed by here, and remark, "How much more clever a prophet I am than you!"
What then? Do I say that man is an animal made for inactivity? Far be it from me! But how can you say that we philosophers are not active in affairs? For example, to take myself first: as soon as day breaks I call to mind briefly what author I must read over. Then forthwith I say to myself: "And yet what difference does it really make to me how so-and-so reads? The first thing is that I get my sleep." Even so, in what are the occupations of those other men comparable to ours? If you observe what they do, you will see. For what else do they do but all day long cast up accounts, dispute, consult about a bit of grain, a bit of land, or similar matters of profit? Is it, then, much the same thing to receive a little petition from someone and read: "I beseech you to allow me to export a small quantity of grain," and this one: "I beseech you to learn from Chrysippus what is the administration of the universe, and what place therein the rational animal has; and consider also who you are, and what is the nature of your good and evil"? Is this like that? And does it demand the like kind of study? And is it in the same way shameful to neglect the one and the other? What then? Is it we philosophers alone who take things easily and drowse? No, it is you young men far sooner. For, look you, we old men, when we see young men playing, are eager to join in the play ourselves. And much more, if I saw them wide-awake and eager to share in our studies, should I be eager to join, myself, in their serious pursuits.
Of family affection
When an official came to see him, Epictetus, after making some special enquiries about other matters, asked him if he had children and a wife, and when the other replied that he had, Epictetus asked the further question, What, then, is your experience with marriage?—Wretched, he said.—To which Epictetus, How so? For men do not marry and beget children just for this surely, to be wretched, but rather to be happy.—And yet, as for me, the other replied, I feel so wretched about the little children, that recently when my little daughter was sick and was thought to be in danger, I could not bear even to stay by her sick bed, but I up and ran away, until someone brought me word that she was well again.—What then, do you feel that you were acting right in doing this?—I was acting naturally, he said.—But really, you must first convince me of this, that you were acting naturally, said he, and then I will convince you that whatever is done in accordance with nature is rightly done.—This is the way, said the man, all, or at least most, of us fathers feel.—And I do not contradict you either, answered Epictetus, and say that it is not done, but the point at issue between us is the other, whether it is rightly done. For by your style of reasoning we should have to say of tumours also that they are produced for the good of the body, just because they occur, and in brief, that to err is in accordance with nature, just because practically all of us, or at least most of us, do err. Do you show me, therefore, how your conduct is in accordance with nature.—I cannot, said the man; but do you rather show me how it is not in accordance with nature, and not rightly done. And Epictetus said: Well, if we were enquiring about white and black objects, what sort of criterion should we summon in order to distinguish between them?—The sight, said the man.—And if about hot and cold, and hard and soft objects, what criterion?—The touch.—Very well, then, since we are disputing about things which are in accordance with nature and things which are rightly or not rightly done, what criterion would you have us take?—I do not know, he said.—And yet, though it is, perhaps, no great harm for one not to know the criterion of colours and odours, and so, too, of flavours, still do you think that it is a slight harm for a man to be ignorant of the criterion of good and evil things, and of those in accordance with nature and those contrary to nature?—On the contrary, it is the very greatest harm. Come, tell me, are all the things that certain persons regard as good and fitting, rightly so regarded? And is it possible at this present time that all the opinions which Jews, and Syrians, and Egyptians and Romans hold on the subject of food are rightly held?—And how can it be possible?—But, I fancy, it is absolutely necessary, if the views of the Egyptians are right, that those of the others are not right; if those of the Jews are well founded, that those of the others are not.—Yes, certainly.—Now where there is ignorance, there is also lack of knowledge and the lack of instruction in matters which are indispensable.—He agreed.—You, then, said he, now that you perceive this, will henceforth study no other have learned the criterion of what is in accordance with nature, you shall apply that criterion and thus determine each special case.
But for the present I can give you the following assistance toward the attainment of what you desire. Does family affection seem to you to be in accordance with nature and good?—Of course.—What then? Is it possible that, while family affection is in accordance with nature and good, that which is reasonable is not good?—By no means.—That which is reasonable is not, therefore, incompatible with family affection?—It is not, I think.—Otherwise, when two things are incompatible and one of them is in accordance with nature, the other must be contrary to nature, must it not?—Even so, said he.—Whatever, therefore, we find to be at the same time both affectionate and reasonable, this we confidently assert to be both right and good?—Granted, said he.—What then? I suppose you will not deny that going away and leaving one's child when it is sick is at least not reasonable. But we have yet to consider whether it is affectionate.—Yes, let us consider that.—Were you, then, since you were affectionately disposed to your child, doing right when you ran away and left her? And has the mother no affection for her child?—On the contrary, she has affection.—Ought then the mother also to have left her child, or ought she not?—She ought not.—What of the nurse? Does she love her child?—She does, he said.—Ought, then, she also to have left her?—By no means.—What about the school attendant? Does not he love the child?—He does.—Ought, then, he as well to have gone away and left her, so that the child would thus have been left alone and helpless because of the great affection of you her parents and of those in charge of her, or, perhaps, have died in the arms of those who neither loved her nor cared for her?—Far from it!—And yet is it not unfair and unfeeling, when a man thinks certain conduct fitting for himself because of his affection, that he should not allow the same to others who have as much affection as he has?—That were absurd.—Come, if it had been you who were sick, would you have wanted all your relatives, your children and your wife included, to show their affection in such a way that you would be left all alone and deserted by them?—By no means.—And would you pray to be so loved by your own that, because of their excessive affection, you would always be left alone in sickness? Or would you, so far as this is concerned, have prayed to be loved by your enemies rather, if that were possible, so as to be left alone by them? And if this is what you would have prayed for, the only conclusion left us is that your conduct was, in the end, not an act of affection at all.
What, then; was the motive nothing at all which actuated you and induced you to leave your child? And how can that be? But it was a motive like that which impelled a certain man in Rome to cover his head when the horse which he backed was running,—and then, when it won unexpectedly, they had to apply sponges to him to revive him from his faint! What motive, then, is this? The scientific explanation, perhaps, is not in place now; but it is enough for us to be convinced that, if what the philosophers say is sound, we ought not to look for the motive anywhere outside of ourselves, but that in all cases it is one and the same thing that is the cause of our doing a thing or of our not doing it, of our saying things, or of our not saying them, of our being elated, or of our being cast down, of our avoiding things, or of our pursuing them—the very thing, indeed, which has even now become a cause of my action and of yours; yours in coming to me and sitting here now listening, mine in saying these things. And what is that? Is it, indeed, anything else than that we wanted to do this?—Nothing.—And supposing that we had wanted to do something else, what else would we be doing than that which we wanted to do? Surely, then, in the case of Achilles also, it was this that was the cause of his grief—not the death of Patroclus (for other men do not act this way when their comrades die), but that he wanted to grieve. And in your case the other day, the cause of your running away was just that you wanted to do so; and another time, if you stay with her, it will be because you wanted to stay. And now you are going back to Rome, because you want to do so, and if you change your mind and want something else, you will not go. And, in brief, it is neither death, nor exile, nor toil, nor any such thing that is the cause of our doing, or of our not doing, anything, but only our opinions and the decisions of our will.
Do I convince you of this, or not?—You convince me, said he.—Of such sort, then, as are the causes in each case, such likewise are the effects. Very well, then, whenever we do anything wrongly, from this day forth we shall ascribe to this action no other cause than the decision of our will which led us to do it, and we shall endeavour to destroy and excise that cause more earnestly than we try to destroy and excise from the body its tumours and abscesses. And in the same way we shall declare the same thing to be the cause of our good actions. And we shall no longer blame either slave, or neighbour, or wife, or children, as being the causes of any evils to us, since we are persuaded that, unless we decide that things are thus-and-so, we do not perform the corresponding actions; and of our decision, for or against something, we ourselves, and not things outside of ourselves, are the masters.—Even so, he said.—From this very day, therefore, the thing whose nature or condition we shall investigate and examine will be neither our farm, nor our slaves, nor our horses, nor our dogs, but only the decisions of our will.—I hope so, he said.—You see, then, that it is necessary for you to become a frequenter of the schools,—that animal at which all men laugh,—if you really desire to make an examination of the decisions of your own will. And that this is not the work of a single hour or day you know as well as I do.
Concerning gods there are some who say that the divine does not so much as exist; and others, that it exists, indeed, but is inactive and indifferent, and takes forethought for nothing; and a third set, that it exists and takes forethought, though only for great and heavenly things and in no case for terrestrial things; and a fourth set, that it also takes forethought for things terrestrial and the affairs of men, but only in a general way, and not for the individual in particular; and a fifth set, to which Odysseus and Socrates belonged, who say
Nor when I move am I concealed from thee.
We must, therefore, first of all enquire about each of these statements, to see whether it is sound or not sound. For if gods do not exist, how can it be an end to follow the gods? And if they exist, indeed, but care for nothing, how even thus will that conclusion be sound? But if, indeed, they both exist and exercise care, yet there is no communication from them to men,—yes, and, by Zeus, to me personally,—how even in this case can our conclusion still be sound? The good and excellent man must, therefore, inquire into all these things, before he subordinates his own will to him who administers the universe, precisely as good citizens submit to the law of the state. And he that is being instructed ought to come to his instruction with this aim, "How may I follow the gods in everything, and how may I be acceptable to the divine administration, and how may I become free?" Since he is free for whom all things happen according to his moral purpose, and whom none can restrain. What then? Is freedom insanity? Far from it; for madness and freedom are not consistent with one another. "But I would have that which seems best to me happen in every case, no matter how it comes to seem so." You are mad; you are beside yourself. Do you not know that freedom is a noble and precious thing? But for me to desire at haphazard that those things should happen which have at haphazard seemed best to me, is dangerously near being, not merely not noble, but even in the highest degree shameful. For how do we act in writing? Do I desire to write the name "Dio" as I choose? No, but I am taught to desire to write it as it ought to be written. What do we do in music? The same. And what in general, where there is any art or science? The same; otherwise knowledge of anything would be useless, if it were accommodated to every individual's whims. Is it, then, only in this matter of freedom, the greatest and indeed the highest of all, that I am permitted to desire at haphazard? By no means, but instruction consists precisely in learning to desire each thing exactly as it happens. And how do they happen? As he that ordains them has ordained. And he has ordained that there be summer and winter, and abundance and dearth, and virtue and vice, and all such opposites, for the harmony of the whole, and he has given each of us a body, and members of the body, and property and companions.
Mindful, therefore, of this ordaining we should go to receive instruction, not in order to change the constitution of things,—for this is neither vouchsafed us nor is it better that it should be,—but in order that, things about us being as they are and as their nature is, we may, for our own part, keep our wills in harmony with what happens. For, look you, can we escape from men? And how is it possible? But can we, if they associate with us, change them? And who vouchsafes us that power? What alternative remains, then, or what method can we find for living with them? Some such method as that, while they will act as seems best to them, we shall none the less be in a state comformable to nature. But you are impatient and peevish, and if you are alone, you call it a solitude, but if you are in the company of men, you call them schemers and brigands, and you find fault even with your own parents and children and brothers and neighbours. But you ought, when staying alone, to call that peace and freedom, and to look upon yourself as like the gods; and when you are in the company of many, you ought not call that a mob, nor a tumult, nor a disgusting thing, but a feast and a festival, and so accept all things contentedly.
What, then, is the punishment of those who do not accept? To be just as they are. Is one peevish because he is alone? Let him be in solitude! Is he peevish with his parents? Let him be an evil son and grieve! Is he peevish with his children? Let him be a bad father! "Throw him into prison." What sort of prison? Where he now is. For he is there against his will, and where a man is against his will, that for him is a prison. Just as Socrates was not in prison, for he was there willingly. "Alas, that I should be lame in my leg!" Slave, do you, then, because of one paltry leg blame the universe? Will you not make a free gift of it to the whole? Will you not relinquish it? Will you not gladly yield it to the giver? And will you be angry and peevish at the ordinances of Zeus, which he defined and ordained together with the Fates who spun in his presence the thread of your begetting? Do you not know how small a part you are compared with the whole? That is, as to the body; for as to the reason you are not inferior to the gods, nor less than they; for the greatness of the reason is not determined by length nor by height, but by the decisions of its will.
Will you not, therefore, set what is for you the good in that wherein you are equal to the gods? "Wretched man that I am; such a father and such a mother as I have!" Well, was it permitted you to step forward and make selection, saying, "Let such-and-such man have intercourse with such-and-such woman at this hour, that I may be born"? It was not permitted you; but your parents had to exist first, then you had to be born as you were born. Of what kind of parents? Of such as they were. What then? Since they are such, is no remedy given you? Again, supposing that you were ignorant of the purpose for which you possess the faculty of vision, you would be unfortunate and wretched if you closed your eyes when men brought some colour before them; but in that you have greatness of mind and nobility for use for everyone of the things may happen to you, and know it not, are you not yet more unfortunate and wretched? Things proportionate to the faculty which you possess are brought before you, but you turn that faculty away at the very moment when you ought to keep it wide open and discerning. Do you not rather render thanks to the gods that they have allowed you to be superior to all the things that they did not put under your control, and have rendered you accountable only for what is under your control? As for parents, the gods have released you from accountability; as for brothers, they have released you; as for body, they have released you; and for property, death, life. Well, for what have they made you accountable? For the only thing that is under your control—the proper use of impressions. Why, then, do you draw upon yourself that for which you are not responsible? This is to make trouble for yourself.
How may each several thing be done acceptably to the gods?
Now when someone asked him how it is possible to eat acceptably to the gods, he said, If it is done justly and graciously and fairly and restrainedly and decently, is it not also done acceptably to the gods? And when you have asked for warm water and the slave does not heed you; or if he does heed you but brings in tepid water; or if he is not even to be found in the house, then to refrain from anger and not to explode, is not this acceptable to the gods?—How, then, can a man bear with such persons?—Slave, will you not bear with your own brother, who has Zeus as his progenitor and is, as it were, a son born of the same seed as yourself and of the same sowing from above; but if you have been stationed in a like position above others, will you forthwith set yourself up as a tyrant? Do you not remember what you are, and over whom you rule—that they are kinsmen, that they are brothers by nature, that they are the offspring of Zeus?—But I have a deed of sale for them, and they have none for me.—Do you see whither you bend your gaze, that it is to the earth, that it is to the pit, that it is to these wretched laws of ours, the laws of the dead, and that it is not to the laws of the gods that you look?
That the Deity oversees all men
Now when someone asked him how a man could be convinced that each thing which he does is under the eye of God, Do you not think, he answered, that all things are united in one?—I do, said the other.—Very well, do you not think that what is on earth feels the influence of that which is in heaven?—I do, he replied.—For how else comes it that so regularly, as if from God's command, when He bids the plants flower, they flower, when He bids them put forth shoots, they put them forth, when He bids them bear their fruit, they bear it, when to ripen, they ripen; when again He bids them drop their fruit and let fall their leaves and gather themselves together and remain quiet and take their rest, they remain quiet and take their rest? And how else comes it that at the waxing and waning of the moon and at the approach and recession of the sun we see among the things that are on earth so great an alteration and change to the opposite? But are the plants and our own bodies so closely bound up with the universe, and do they so intimately share its affections, and is not the same much more true of our own souls? But if our souls are so bound up with God and joined together with Him, as being parts and portions of His being, does not God perceive their every motion as being a motion of that which is His own and of one body with Himself? And yet you have power to think about the divine dispensation and about each several item among things divine, and at the same time also about human affairs, and you have the faculty of being moved by myriads of matters at the same time both in your senses and in your intelligence, and at the same time you assent to some, while you dissent from others, or suspend judgement about them; and you guard in your own soul so many impressions derived from so many and various matters, and, on being moved by these impressions, your mind falls upon notions corresponding to the impressions first made, and so from myriads of matters you derive and retain arts, one after the other, and memories. All this you do, and is God not able to oversee all things and to be present with all and to have a certain communication from them all? Yet the sun is capable of illuminating so large a portion of the universe, and of leaving unilluminated only the small space which is no larger than can be covered by the shadow that the earth casts; and is He who has created the sun, which is but a small portion of Himself in comparison with the whole, and causes it to revolve, is He not able to perceive all things?
And yet, says one, I cannot follow all these things at one and the same time.—But does anyone go so far as to tell you this, namely, that you possess a faculty which is equal to that of Zeus? Yet none the less He has stationed by each man's side as guardian his particular genius,—and has committed the man to his care,—and that too a guardian who never sleeps and is not to be beguiled. For to what other guardian, better and more careful, could He have committed each one of us? Wherefore, when you close your doors and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within, and your own genius is within. And what need have they of light in order to see what you are doing? Yes, and to this God you also ought to swear allegiance, as the soldiers do to Caesar. They are but hirelings, yet they swear that they will put the safety of Caesar above everything; and shall you, indeed, who have been counted worthy of blessings so numerous and so great be unwilling to swear, or, when you have sworn, to abide by your oath? And what shall you swear? Never to disobey under any circumstances, never to prefer charges, never to find fault with anything that God has given, never to let your will rebel when you have either to do or to suffer something that is inevitable. Can the oath of the soldiers in any way be compared with this of ours? Out there men swear never to prefer another in honour above Caesar; but here we swear to prefer ourselves in honour above everything else.
What does philosophy profess?
When someone consulted Epictetus as to how he could persuade his brother to cease being angry with him, he replied, Philosophy does not profess to secure for man any external possession. Otherwise it would be undertaking something that lies outside its proper subject-matter. For as wood is the material of the carpenter, bronze that of the statuary, just so each man's own life is the subject-matter of the art of living.—Well, what about my brother's life?—That again is the subject-matter of his own art of living, but with respect to your art of living it comes under the category of externals, like a farm, like health, like good repute. Philosophy promises none of these things, but rather, "In every circumstance I will keep the governing principle in a state of accord with nature."—Whose governing principle?—"His in whom I am."—How, then, shall I keep my brother from being angry at me?—Bring him to me and I will tell him, but I have nothing to say to you on the subject of his anger.
And when the man who was consulting him said. What I seek to know is this, how, even if my brother refuses to be reconciled with me, I may yet be in accord with nature, Epictetus replied: Nothing great comes into being all at once; why, not even does the bunch of grapes, or a fig. If you say to me now, "I want a fig," I shall answer, "That requires time." Let the tree blossom first, then put forth its fruit, and finally let the fruit ripen. Now although the fruit of even a fig-tree is not brought to perfection all at once and in a single hour, would you still seek to secure the fruit of a man's mind in so short a while and so easily? Do not expect it, not even if I should tell you so myself.
Marvel not that the animals other than man have furnished them, ready prepared by nature, what pertains to their bodily needs—not merely food and drink, but also a bed to lie on,—and that they have no need of shoes, or bedding, or clothing, while we are in need of all these things. For in the case of animals, born not for their own sake, but for service, to have created them in need of other things was not beneficial. Why, consider what it would be for us to have to take thought not for merely ourselves, but also for our sheep and our asses, how they are to be clothed and shod, how they are to find food and drink. But just as soldiers appear before their general, all ready for service, shod, clothed and armed, and it would be shocking if the colonel had to go around and equip his regiment with shoes or uniforms; so also nature has made animals, which are born for service, ready for use, equipped, and in need of no further attention. Consequently one small child with a rod can drive a flock of sheep.
But as it is, we first forbear to give thanks for these beasts, because we do not have to bestow upon them the same care as we require for ourselves, and then proceed to complain against God on our own account! Yet, by Zeus and the gods, one single gift of nature would suffice to make a man who is reverent and grateful perceive the providence of God. Do not talk to me now of great matters: take the mere fact that milk is produced from grass, and cheese from milk, and that wool grows from skin—who is it that has created or devised these things? "No one," somebody says. Oh, the depth of man's stupidity and shamelessness!
Come, let us leave the chief works of nature, and consider merely what she does in passing. Can anything be more useless than the hairs on a chin? Well, what then? Has not nature used even these in the most suitable way possible? Has she not by these means distinguished between the male and the female? Does not the nature of each one among us cry aloud forthwith from afar, "I am a man; on this understanding approach me, on this understanding talk with me; ask for nothing further; behold the signs"? Again, in the case of women, just as nature has mingled in their voice a certain softer note, so likewise she has taken the hair from their chins. Not so, you say; on the contrary the human animal ought to have been left without distinguishing features, and each of us ought to proclaim by word of mouth, "I am a man." Nay, but how fair and becoming and dignified the sign is! How much more fair than the cock's comb, how much more magnificent than the lion's mane! Wherefore, we ought to preserve the signs which God has given; we ought not to throw them away; we ought not, so far as in us lies, to confuse the sexes which have been distinguished in this fashion.
Are these the only works of Providence in us? Nay, what language is adequate to praise them all or bring them home to our minds as they deserve? Why, if we had sense, ought we to be doing anything else, publicly and privately, than hymning and praising the Deity, and rehearsing His benefits? Ought we not, as we dig and plough and eat, to sing the hymn of praise to God? "Great is God, that He hath furnished us these instruments wherewith we shall till the earth. Great is God, that He hath given us hands, and power to swallow, and a belly, and power to grow unconsciously, and to breathe while asleep." This is what we ought to sing on every occasion, and above all to sing the greatest and divinest hymn, that God has given us the faculty to comprehend these things and to follow the path of reason. What then? Since most of you have become blind, ought there not to be someone to fulfil this office for you, and in behalf of all sing the hymn of praise to God? Why, what else can I, a lame old man, do but sing hymns to God? If, indeed, I were a nightingale, I should be singing as a nightingale; if a swan, as a swan. But as it is, I am a rational being, therefore I must be singing hymns of praise to God. This is my task; I do it, and will not desert this post, as long as it may be given me to fill it; and I exhort you to join me in this same song.
That the art of reasoning is indispensable
Since it is reason that analyzes and perfects all else, and reason itself ought not to remain unanalyzed, wherewithal shall it be analyzed? Why, clearly, either by itself, or by something else. This latter is assuredly either reason, or it will prove to be something else superior to reason, which is impossible. If it be reason, who again will analyze that reason? For if it analyzes its own self, the reason with which we started can do as much. If we are going to require something else at each step, our process will be endless and unceasing.
"Yes," says someone, "but the cure (of the decisions of our will) is a much more pressing need (than the study of logic)," and the like. Do you then wish to hear about this other matter? Very well, listen. But if you say to me, "I do not know whether your argument is true or false," and, if I use some ambiguous term, and you should then say, "Distinguish," I shall bear with you no longer, but shall tell you, "'Nay, but there is a much more pressing need.'" This is the reason, I suppose, why the Stoic philosophers put Logic first, just as in the measuring of grain we put first the examination of the measure. And if we do not define first what a modius is, and do not define first what a scale is, how shall we be able to proceed with measuring or weighing anything? So, in the field of our present enquiry, if we have neglected the thorough knowledge and intellectual mastery of our standard of judgement for all other things, whereby they come to be known thoroughly, shall we ever be able to attain intellectual mastery and thorough knowledge of the rest of the world? And how could we possibly? "Yes," we are told, "but the modius is made out of wood and bears no fruit." True, but it is something with which we can measure grain. "Logic also bears no fruit." Now as for this statement we shall see later; but if one should grant even this, it is enough to say in defence of Logic that it has the power to discriminate and examine everything else, and. as one might say, to measure and weigh them. Who says this? Only Chrysippus and Zeno and Cleanthes? Well, does not Antisthenes say it? And who is it that wrote, "The beginning of education is the examination of terms"? Does not Socrates, too, say the same thing? And of whom does Xenophon write, that he began with the examination of terms, asking about each, "What does it mean?"
Is this, then, your great and admirable achievement—the ability to understand and to interpret Chrysippus? And who says that? What, then, is your admirable achievement? To understand the will of nature. Very well; do you understand it all by yourself? And if that is the case, what more do you need? For if it is true that "all men err involuntarily," and you have learned the truth, it must needs be that you are doing right already. But, so help me Zeus, I do not comprehend the will of nature. Who, then, interprets it? Men say, Chrysippus. I go and try to find out what this interpreter of nature says. I begin not to understand what he says, and look for the man who can interpret him. "Look and consider what this passage means," says the interpreter, "just as if it were in Latin!" What place is there here, then, for pride on the part of the interpreter? Why, there is no just place for pride even on the part of Chrysippus, if he merely interprets the will of nature, but himself does not follow it; how much less place for pride, then, in the case of his interpreter! For we have no need of Chrysippus on his own account, but only to enable us to follow nature. No more have we need of him who divines through sacrifice, considered on his own account, but simply because we think that through his instrumentality we shall understand the future and the signs given by the gods; nor do we need the entrails on their own account, but only because through them the signs are given; nor do we admire the crow or the raven, but God, who gives His signs through them.
Wherefore, I go to this interpreter and diviner and say, "Examine for me the entrails, and tell me what signs they give." The fellow takes and spreads them out and then interprets: "Man, you have a moral purpose free by nature from hindrances and constraint. This stands written here in these entrails. I will prove you that first in the sphere of assent. Can anyone prevent you from assenting to truth? No one at all. Can anyone force you to accept the false? No one at all. Do you see that in this sphere you have a moral purpose free from hindrance, constraint, obstruction? Come, in the sphere of desire and choice is it otherwise? And what can overcome one impulse but another impulse? And what can overcome one desire or aversion but another desire or aversion?" "But," says someone, "if a person subjects me to the fear of death, he compels me." "No, it is not what you are subjected to that impels you, but the fact that you decide it is better for you to do something of the sort than to die. Once more, then, it is the decision of your own will which compelled you, that is, moral purpose compelled moral purpose. For if God had so constructed that part of His own being which He has taken from Himself and bestowed upon us, that it could be subjected to hindrance or constraint either from Himself or from some other. He were no longer God, nor would He be caring for us as He ought. This is what I find," says the diviner, "in the sacrifice. These are the signs vouchsafed you. If you will, you are free; if you will, you will not have to blame anyone, or complain against anyone; everything will be in accordance with what is not merely your own will, but at the same time the will of God." This is the prophecy for the sake of which I go to this diviner—in other words, the philosopher,—not admiring him because of his interpretation, but rather the interpretation which he gives.
That we ought not to be angry with the erring
If what the philosophers say is true, that in all men thought and action start from a single source, namely feeling—as in the case of assent the feeling that a thing is so, and in the case of dissent the feeling that it is not so, yes, and, by Zeus, in the case of suspended judgement the feeling that it is uncertain, so also in the case of impulse towards a thing, the feeling that it is expedient for me and that it is impossible to judge one thing expedient and yet desire another, and again, to judge one thing fitting, and yet be impelled to another—if all this be true, why are we any longer angry with the multitude?—"They are thieves," says someone, "and robbers."—What do you mean by "thieves and robbers?" They have simply gone astray in questions of good and evil. Ought we, therefore, to be angry with them, or rather pity them? Only show them their error and you will see how quickly they will desist from their mistakes. But if their eyes are not opened, they have nothing superior to their mere opinion.
Ought not this brigand, then, and this adulterer to be put to death? you ask. Not at all, but you should ask rather, "Ought not this man to be put to death who is in a state of error and delusion about the greatest matters, and is in a state of blindness, not, indeed, in the vision which distinguishes between white and black, but in the judgement which distinguishes between the good and the evil?" And if you put it this way, you will realize how inhuman a sentiment it is that you are uttering, and that it is just as if you should say, "Ought not this blind man, then, or this deaf man to be put to death?" For if the loss of the greatest things is the greatest harm that can befall a man, while the greatest thing in each man is a right moral purpose, and if a man is deprived of this very thing, what ground is left for you to be angry at him? Why, man, if you must needs be affected in a way that is contrary to nature at the misfortunes of another, pity him rather, but do not hate him: drop this readiness to take offence and this spirit of hatred; do not introduce those words which the multitude of the censorious use: "Well, then, these accursed and abominable fools!" Very well; but how is it that you have so suddenly been converted to wisdom that you are angry at fools? Why, then, are we angry? Because we admire the goods of which these men rob us. For, mark you, stop admiring your clothes, and you are not angry at the man who steals them; stop admiring your wife's beauty, and you are not angry at her adulterer. Know that a thief or an adulterer has no place among the things that are your own, but only among the things that are another's and that are not under your control. If you give these things up and count them as nothing, at whom have you still ground to feel angry? But so long as you admire these things, be angry at yourself and not at the men that I have just mentioned. For consider; you have fine clothes and your neighbour does not; you have a window and wish to air them. He does not know wherein the true good of man consists, but fancies that it consists in having fine clothes, the very same fancy that you also entertain. Shall he not come, then, and carry them off? Why, when you show a cake to gluttonous men and then gulp it down all to yourself, are you not wanting them to snatch it? Stop provoking them, stop having a window, stop airing your clothes.
Something similar happened to me also the other day. I keep an iron lamp by the side of my household gods, and, on hearing a noise at the window, I ran down. I found that the lamp had been stolen. I reflected that the man who stole it was moved by no unreasonable motive. What then? To-morrow, I say, you will find one of earthenware. Indeed, a man loses only that which he already has. "I have lost my cloak." Yes, for you had a cloak. "I have a pain in my head." You don't have a pain in your horns, do you? Why, then, are you indignant? For our losses and our pains have to do only with the things which we possess.
"But the tyrant will chain———" What? Your leg. "But he will cut off———" What? Your neck. What, then, will he neither chain nor cut off? Your moral purpose. This is why the ancients gave us the injunction, "Know thyself." What follows, then? Why, by the Gods, that one ought to practise in small things, and beginning with them pass on to the greater. "I have a head-ache." Well, do not say "Alas!" "I have an ear-ache." Do not say "Alas!" And I am not saying that it is not permissible to groan, only do not groan in the centre of your being. And if your slave is slow in bringing your bandage, do not cry out and make a wry face and say, "Everybody hates me." Why, who would not hate such a person? For the future put your confidence in these doctrines and walk about erect, free, not putting your confidence in the size of your body, like an athlete; for you ought not to be invincible in the way an ass is invincible.
Who, then, is the invincible man? He whom nothing that is outside the sphere of his moral purpose can dismay. I then proceed to consider the circumstances one by one, as I would do in the case of the athlete. "This fellow has won the first round. What, then, will he do in the second? What if it be scorching hot? And what will he do at Olympia?" It is the same way with the case under consideration. If you put a bit of silver coin in a man's way, he will despise it. Yes, but if you put a bit of a wench in his way, what then? Or if it be in the dark, what then? Or if you throw a bit of reputation in his way, what then? Or abuse, what then? Or praise, what then? Or death, what then? All these things he can overcome. What, then, if it be scorching hot—that is, what if he be drunk? What if he be melancholy-mad? What if asleep? The man who passes all these tests is what I mean by the invincible athlete.
How ought we to bear ourselves toward tyrants?
If a man possesses some superiority, or thinks at least that he does, even though he does not, it is quite unavoidable that this man, if he is uneducated, becomes puffed up on account of it. For example, the tyrant exclaims, "I am the mightiest in the world." Very well, what can you do for me? Can you secure for me desire that is free from any hindrance? How can you? Do you have it yourself? Can you secure for me aversion proof against encountering what it would avoid? Do you have it yourself? Or infallible choice? And where can you claim a share in that? Come, when you are on board ship, do you feel confidence in yourself, or in the skilled navigator? And when you are in a chariot, in whom do you feel confidence other than the skilled driver. And how is it in the other arts? The same way. What does your power amount to, then? "All men pay attention to me." Yes, and I pay attention to my little plate and wash it and wipe it out, and for the sake of my oil-flask I drive a peg in the wall. What follows, then? Are these things superior to me? No, but they render me some service, and therefore I pay attention to them. Again, do I not pay attention to my donkey? Do I not wash his feet? Do I not curry him? Do you not know that every man pays attention to himself, and to you just as he does to his donkey? For who pays attention to you as to a man? Point him out to me. Who wishes to become like you? Who becomes a zealous follower of yours as men did of Socrates? "But I can cut off your head." Well said! I had forgotten that I ought to pay attention to you, as to fever or cholera, and set up an altar to you, just as in Rome there is an altar to the God Fever.
What is it, then, that disturbs and bewilders the multitude? Is it the tyrant and his bodyguards? How is that possible? Nay, far from it! It is not possible that that which is by nature free should be disturbed or thwarted by anything but itself. But it is a man's own judgements that disturb him. For when the tyrant says to a man, "I will chain your leg," the man who has set a high value on his leg replies, "Nay, have mercy upon me," while the man who has set a high value on his moral purpose replies, "If it seems more profitable to you to do so, chain it." "Do you not care?" "No, I do not care." "I will show you that I am master." "How can you be my master? Zeus has set me free. Or do you really think that he was likely to let his own son be made a slave? You are, however, master of my dead body, take it." "You mean, then, that when you approach me you will not pay attention to me?" "No, I pay attention only to myself. But if you wish me to say that I pay attention to you too, I tell you that I do so, but only as I pay attention to my pot."
This is not mere self-love; such is the nature of the animal man; everything that he does is for himself. Why, even the sun does everything for its own sake, and, for that matter, so does Zeus himself. But when Zeus wishes to be "Rain-bringer," and "Fruit-giver," and "Father of men and of gods," you can see for yourself that he cannot achieve these works, or win these appellations, unless he proves himself useful to the common interest; and in general he has so constituted the nature of the rational animal man, that he can attain nothing of his own proper goods unless he contributes something to the common interest. Hence it follows that it can no longer be regarded as unsocial for a man to do everything for his own sake. For what do you expect? That a man should neglect himself and his own interest? And in that case how can there be room for one and the same principle of action for all, namely, that of appropriation to their own needs?
What then? When men entertain absurd opinions about what lies outside the province of the moral purpose, counting it good or bad, it is altogether unavoidable for them to pay attention to the tyrant. Aye, would that it were merely the tyrants and not their chamberlains too! And yet how can the man suddenly become wise when Caesar puts him in charge of his chamberpot? How can we forthwith say "Felicio has spoken wisely to me"? I would that he were deposed from the superintendency of the dunghill, that you may think him a fool again! Epaphroditus owned a certain cobbler whom he sold because he was useless; then by some chance the fellow was bought by a member of Caesar's household and became cobbler to Caesar. You should have seen how Epaphroditus honoured him! "How is my good Felicio, I pray you?" he used to say. And then if someone asked us, "What is your master doing?" he was told, "He is consulting Felicio about something or other." Why, had he not sold him as being useless? Who, then, had suddenly made a wise man out of him? This is what it means to honour something else than what lies within the province of the moral purpose.
"He has been honoured with a tribuneship," someone says. All who meet him offer their congratulations; one man kisses him on the eyes, another on the neck, his slaves kiss his hands. He goes home; he finds lamps being lighted. He climbs up the Capitol and offers sacrifice. Now who ever sacrificed as a thank-offering for having had right desire, or for having exercised choice in accordance with nature? For we give thanks to the gods for that wherein we set the good.
To-day a man was talking to me about a priesthood of Augustus. I say to him, "Man, drop the matter; you will be spending a great deal to no purpose." "But," says he, "those who draw up deeds of sale will inscribe my name." "Do you really expect, then, to be present when the deeds are read and say, 'That is my name they have written'? And even supposing you are now able to be present whenever anyone reads them, what will you do if you die?" "My name will remain after me." "Inscribe it on a stone and it will remain after you. Come now, who will remember you outside of Nicopolis?" "But I shall wear a crown of gold." "If you desire a crown at all, take a crown of roses and put it on; you will look much more elegant in that."
How the reasoning faculty contemplates itself
Every art and faculty makes certain things the special object of its contemplation. Now when the art or faculty itself is of like kind with what it contemplates, it becomes inevitably self-contemplative; but when it is of unlike kind, it cannot contemplate itself. For example, the art of leather-working has to do with hides, but the art itself is altogether different from the material of hides, wherefore it is not self-contemplative. Again, the art of grammar has to do with written speech; it is not, therefore, also itself written speech, is it? Not at all. For this reason it cannot contemplate itself. Well then, for what purpose have we received reason from nature? For the proper use of external impressions. What, then, is reason itself? Something composed out of a certain kind of external impressions. Thus it comes naturally to be also self-contemplative. Once more, what are the things that wisdom has been given us to contemplate? Things good, bad, and neither good nor bad. What, then, is wisdom itself? A good. And what is folly? An evil. Do you see, then, that wisdom inevitably comes to contemplate both itself and its opposite? Therefore, the first and greatest task of the philosopher is to test the impressions and discriminate between them, and to apply none that has not been tested. You all see in the matter of coinage, in which it is felt that we have some interest, how we have even invented an art, and how many means the tester employs to test the coinage—sight, touch, smell, finally hearing; he throws the denarius down and then listens to the sound, and is not satisfied with the sound it makes on a single test, but, as a result of his constant attention to the matter, he catches the tune, like a musician. Thus, where we feel that it makes a good deal of difference to us whether we go wrong or do not go wrong, there we apply any amount of attention to discriminating between things that are capable of making us go wrong, but in the case of our governing principle, poor thing, we yawn and sleep and erroneously accept any and every external impression; for here the loss that we suffer does not attract our attention.
When, therefore, you wish to realize how careless you are about the good and the evil, and how zealous you are about that which is indifferent, observe how you feel about physical blindness on the one hand, and mental delusion on the other, and you will find out that you are far from feeling as you ought about things good and things evil. "Yes, but this requires much preparation, and much hard work, and learning many things." Well, what then? Do you expect it to be possible to acquire the greatest art with a slight effort? And yet the chief doctrine of the philosophers is extremely brief. If you would know, read what Zeno has to say and you will see. For what is there lengthy in his statement: "To follow the gods is man's end, and the essence of good is the proper use of external impressions"? Ask, "What, then, is God, and what is an external impression? And what is nature in the individual and nature in the universe?" You already have a lengthy statement. If Epicurus should come and say that the good ought to be in the flesh, again the explanation becomes lengthy, and you must be told what is the principal faculty within us, and what our substantial, and what our essential, nature is. Since it is not probable that the good of a snail lies in its shell, is it, then, probable that the good of man lies in his flesh? But take your own case, Epicurus; what more masterful faculty do you yourself possess? What is that thing within you which takes counsel, which examines into all things severally, which, after examining the flesh itself, decides that it is the principal matter? And why do you light a lamp and toil in our behalf, and write such quantities of books? Is it that we may not fail to know the truth? Who are we? And what are we to you? And so the argument becomes lengthy.
To those who would be admired
When a man has his proper station in life, he is not all agape for things beyond it. Man, what is it you want to have happen to you? As for myself, I am content if I exercise desire and aversion in accordance with nature, if I employ choice and refusal as my nature is, and similarly employ purpose and design and assent. Why, then, do you walk around in our presence as though you had swallowed a spit? "It has always been my wish that those who meet me should admire me and as they follow me should exclaim, 'O the great philosopher!'" Who are those people by whom you wish to be admired? Are they not these about whom you are in the habit of saying that they are mad? What then? Do you wish to be admired by the mad?
Of our preconceptions
Preconceptions are common to all men, and one preconception does not contradict another. For who among us does not assume that the good is profitable and something to be chosen, and that in every circumstance we ought to seek and pursue it? And who among us does not assume that righteousness is beautiful and becoming? When, then, does contradiction arise? It arises in the application of our preconceptions to the particular cases, when one person says, "He did nobly, he is brave"; another, "No, but he is out of his mind." Thence arises the conflict of men with one another. This is the conflict between Jews and Syrians and Egyptians and Romans, not over the question whether holiness should be put before everything else and should be pursued in all circumstances, but whether the particular act of eating swine's flesh is holy or unholy. This, you will find, was also the cause of conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles. Come, summon them before us. What do you say, Agamemnon? Ought
not that to be done which is proper, and that which is noble? "Indeed it ought." And what do you say, Achilles? Do you not agree that what is noble ought to be done? "As for me, I agree most emphatically with that principle." Very well, then, apply your preconceptions to the particular cases. It is just there the conflict starts. The one says, "I ought not to be compelled to give back Chryseis to her father," while the other says, "Indeed you ought." Most certainly one of the two is making a bad application of the preconception "what one ought to do." Again, the one of them says, "Very well, if I ought to give back Chryseis, then I ought to take from some one of you the prize he has won," and the other replies, "Would you, then, take the woman I love?" "Yes, the woman you love," the first answers. "Shall I, then, be the only one—?" "But shall I be the only one to have nothing?" So a conflict arises.
What, then, does it mean to be getting an education? It means to be learning how to apply the natural preconceptions to particular cases, each to the other in conformity with nature, and, further, to make the distinction, that some things are under our control while others are not under our control. Under our control are moral purpose and all the acts of moral purpose; but not under our control are the body, the parts of the body, possessions, parents, brothers, children, country—in a word, all that with which we associate. Where, then, shall we place "the good"? To what class of things are we going to apply it? To the class of things that are under our control?—What, is not health, then, a good thing, and a sound body, and life? Nay, and not even children, or parents, or country?—And who will tolerate you if you deny that? Therefore, let us transfer the designation "good" to these things. But is it possible, then, for a man to be happy if he sustains injury and fails to get that which is good?—It is not possible.—And to maintain the proper relations with his associates? And how can it be possible? For it is my nature to look out for my own interest. If it is my interest to have a farm, it is my interest to take it away from my neighbour; if it is my interest to have a cloak, it is my interest also to steal it from a bath. This is the source of wars, seditions, tyrannies, plots. And again, how shall I any longer be able to perform my duty towards Zeus? For if I sustain injury and am unfortunate, he pays no heed to me. And then we hear men saying, "What have I to do with him, if he is unable to help us?" And again, "What have I to do with him, if he wills that I be in such a state as I am now?" The next step is that I begin to hate him. Why, then, do we build temples to the gods, and make statues of them, as for evil spirits—for Zeus as for a god of Fever? And how can he any longer be "Saviour," and "Rain-bringer," and "Fruit-giver?" And, in truth, if we set the nature of the good somewhere in this sphere, all these things follow.
What, then, shall we do?—This is a subject of enquiry for the man who truly philosophizes and is in travail of thought. Says such a man to himself, "I do not now see what is the good and what is the evil; am I not mad?" Yes, but suppose I set the good somewhere here, among the things that the will controls, all men will laugh at me. Some white-haired old man with many a gold ring on his fingers will come along, and then he will shake his head and say, "Listen to me, my son; one ought of course to philosophize, but one ought also to keep one's head; this is all nonsense. You learn a syllogism from the philosophers, but you know better than the philosophers what you ought to do." Man, why, then, do you censure me, if I know? What shall I say to this slave? If I hold my peace, the fellow bursts with indignation. So I must say, "Forgive me as you would lovers; I am not my own master; I am mad."
In answer to Epicurus
Even Epicurus understands that we are by nature social beings, but having once set our good in the husk which we wear, he cannot go on and say anything inconsistent with this. For, he next insists emphatically upon the principle that we ought neither to admire nor to accept anything that is detached from the nature of the good; and he is right in so doing. But how, then, can we still be social beings, if affection for our own children is not a natural sentiment? Why do you dissuade the wise man from bringing up children? Why are you afraid that sorrow will come to him on their account? What, does sorrow come to him on account of his house-slave Mouse? Well, what does it matter to him if his little Mouse in his home begins to cry? Nay he knows, that if once a child is born, it is no longer in our power not to love it or to care for it. For the same reason Epicurus says that a man of sense does not engage in politics either; for he knows what the man who engages in politics has to do—since, of course, if you are going to live among men as though you were a fly among flies, what is to hinder you? Yet, despite the fact that he knows this, he still has the audacity to say, "Let us not bring up children." But a sheep does not abandon its own offspring, nor a wolf; and yet does a man abandon his? What do you wish us to do? Would you have us be foolish as sheep? But even they do not desert their offspring. Would you have us be fierce as wolves? But even they do not desert their offspring. Come now, who follows your advice when he sees his child fallen on the ground and crying? Why, in my opinion, your mother and your father, even if they had divined that you were going to say such things, would not have exposed you!
How should we struggle against difficulties?
It is difficulties that show what men are. Consequently, when a difficulty befalls, remember that God, like a physical trainer, has matched you with a rugged young man. What for? some one says. So that you may become an Olympic victor; but that cannot be done without sweat. To my way of thinking no one has got a finer difficulty than the one which you have got, if only you are willing to make use of it as an athlete makes use of a young man to wrestle with. And now we are sending you to Rome as a scout, to spy out the land. But no one sends a coward as a scout, that, if he merely hears a noise and sees a shadow anywhere, he may come running back in terror and report "The enemy is already upon us." So now also, if you should come and tell us, "The state of things at Rome is fearful; terrible is death, terrible is exile, terrible is reviling, terrible is poverty; flee, sirs, the enemy is upon us!" we shall say to you, "Away, prophesy to yourself! Our one mistake was that we sent a man like you as a scout."
Diogenes, who before you was sent forth as a scout, has brought us back a different report. He says, "Death is not an evil, since it is not dishonourable"; he says, "Ill repute is a noise made by madmen." And what a report this scout has made us about toil and about pleasure and about poverty! He says, "To be naked is better than any scarlet robe; and to sleep on the bare ground," he says, "is the softest couch." And he offers as a proof of each statement his own courage, his tranquillity, his freedom, and finally his body, radiant with health and hardened. "There is no enemy near," says he; "all is full of peace." How so, Diogenes? "Why, look!" says he, "I have not been struck with any missile, have I, or received any wound? I have not fled from anyone, have I?" This is what it means to be a proper scout, but you return and tell us one thing after another. Will you not go away again and observe more accurately, without this cowardice?
What am I to do, then?—What do you do when you disembark from a ship? You do not pick up the rudder, do you, or the oars? What do you pick up, then? Your own luggage, your oil-flask, your wallet. So now, if you are mindful of what is your own property, you will never lay claim to that which is another's. He says to you, "Lay aside your broad scarlet hem" Behold, the narrow hem. "Lay aside this also." Behold, the plain toga. "Lay aside your toga." Behold, I am naked. "But you arouse my envy." Well, then, take the whole of my paltry body. Do I any longer fear the man to whom I can throw my body? But he will not leave me as his heir. What then? Did I forget that none of these things is my own? How, then, do we call them "'my own"? Merely as we call the bed in the inn "my own." If, then, the inn-keeper dies and leaves you the beds, you will have them; but if he leaves them to someone else, he will have them, and you will look for another bed. If, then, you do not find one, you will have to sleep on the ground; only do so with good courage, snoring and remembering that tragedies find a place among the rich and among kings and tyrants, but no poor man fills a tragic role except as a member of the chorus. Now the kings commence in a state of prosperity:
"Hang the palace with garlands";
then, about the third or fourth act, comes—
"Alas, Cithaeron, why didst thou receive me?"
Upon the same theme
If all this is true and we are not silly nor merely playing a part when we say, "Man's good and man's evil lies in moral choice, and all other things are nothing to us," why are we still distressed and afraid? Over the things that we seriously care for no one has authority; and the things over which other men have authority do not concern us. What kind of thing have we left to discuss?—"Nay, give me directions."—What directions shall I give you? Has not Zeus given you directions? Has he not given you that which is your own, unhindered and unrestrained, while that which is not your own is subject to hindrance and restraint? What directions, then, did you bring with you when you came from him into this world, what kind of an order? Guard by every means that which is your own, but do not grasp at that which is another's. Your faithfulness is your own, your self-respect is your own; who, then, can take these things from you? Who but yourself will prevent you from using them? But you, how do you act? When you seek earnestly that which is not your own, you lose that which is your own. Since you have such promptings and directions from Zeus, what kind do you still want from me? Am I greater than he, or more trustworthy? But if you keep these commands of his, do you need any others besides? But has he not given you these directions? Produce your preconceptions, produce the demonstrations of the philosophers, produce what you have often heard, and produce what you have said yourself, produce what you have read, produce what you have practised.
How long, then, is it well to keep these precepts and not to break up the game? As long as it is played pleasantly. At the Saturnalia a king is chosen by lot; for it has been decided to play this game. The king gives his commands: "You drink, you mix wine, you sing, you go, you come." I obey, so as not to be the one to break up the game. "Come, suppose that you are in an evil plight." I do not so suppose; and who is there to compel me so to suppose? Again, we have agreed to play the story of Agamemnon and Achilles. The one who has been appointed to play the part of Agamemnon says to me, "Go to Achilles, and drag away Briseis." I go. He says, "Come," and I come. For as we behave in the matter of hypothetical proposals, so we ought to behave in life also. "Let it be night." So be it. "What then? Is it day?" No, for I have accepted the assumption that it is night. "Let us suppose that you assume it to be night" So be it. "But go on and assume that it w night," That is not consistent with the hypothesis. So also in the present case. "Let us suppose that you are unhappy." So be it, "Are you, then, unfortunate?" Yes. "What then? Are you troubled with ill-fortune?" Yes. "But go on and assume that you are in a wretched plight." That is not consistent with the hypothesis; moreover, there is Another who forbids me so to think.
How long, then, should we obey such commands? As long as it is beneficial, and that means, as long as I preserve what is becoming and consistent. Further, some men are unduly crabbed and have too sharp tongues and say, "I cannot dine at this fellow's house, where I have to put up with his telling every day how he fought in Moesia: 'I have told you, brother, how I climbed up to the crest of the hill; well now, I begin to be besieged again.'" But another says, "I would rather dine and hear him babble all he pleases." And it is for you to compare these estimates; only do nothing as one burdened, or afflicted, or thinking that he is in a wretched plight; for no one forces you to this. Has some one made a smoke in the house? If he has made a moderate amount of smoke I shall stay; if too much, I go outside. For one ought to remember and hold fast to this, that the door stands open. But some one says, "Do not dwell in Nicopolis." I agree not to dwell there. "Nor in Athens." I agree not to dwell in Athens, either. "Nor in Rome." I agree not to dwell in Rome, either. "Dwell in Gyara." I agree to dwell there. But to dwell in Gyara seems to me to be like a great quantity of smoke in the house. I leave for a place where no one will prevent me from dwelling; for that dwelling-place stands open to every man. And as for the last inner tunic, that is, my paltry body, beyond that no one has any authority over me. That is why Demetrius said to Nero, "You threaten me with death, but nature threatens you." If I admire my paltry body, I have given myself away as a slave; if I admire my paltry property, I have given myself away as a slave; for at once I show thereby to my own hurt what I can be caught with. Just as when the snake draws in his head, I say, "Strike that part of him which he is protecting"; so do you be assured that your master will attack you at that point which you particularly wish to protect. If you remember all this, whom will you flatter or fear any more?
But I wish to sit where the senators do.—Do you realize that you are making close quarters for yourself, that you are crowding yourself?—How else, then, shall I have a good view in the amphitheatre?—Man, do not become spectator and you will not be crowded. Why do you make trouble for yourself? Or else wait a little while, and when the show is over sit down among the seats of the senators and sun yourself. For in general remember this—that we crowd ourselves, we make close quarters for ourselves, that is to say, the decisions of our will crowd us and make us close quarters. Why, what is this matter of being reviled? Take your stand by a stone and revile it; and what effect will you produce? If, then, a man listens like a stone, what profit is there to the reviler? But if the reviler has the weakness of the reviled as a point of vantage, then he does accomplish something. "Strip him." Why do you say 'him'? Take his cloak and strip that off. "I have outraged you." Much good may it do you! This is what Socrates practised, and that is why he always wore the same expression on his face. But we prefer to practise and rehearse anything rather than how to be untrammelled and free. "The philosophers talk paradoxes," you say. But are there not paradoxes in the other arts? And what is more paradoxical than to lance a man in the eye in order that he may see? If anyone said this to a man who was inexperienced in the art of surgery, would he not laugh at the speaker? What is there to be surprised at, then, if in philosophy also many things which are true appear paradoxical to the inexperienced?
What is the rule of life?
As some one was reading the hypothetical arguments, Epictetus said, This also is a law governing hypotheses—that we must accept what the hypothesis or premiss demands. But much more important is the following law of life—that we must do what nature demands. For if we wish in every matter and circumstance to observe what is in accordance with nature, it is manifest that in everything we should make it our aim neither to avoid that which nature demands, nor to accept that which is in conflict with nature. The philosophers, therefore, exercise us first in the theory where there is less difficulty, and then after that lead us to the more difficult matters; for in theory there is nothing which holds us back from following what we are taught, but in the affairs of life there are many things which draw us away. He is ridiculous, then, who says that he wishes to begin with the latter; for it is not easy to begin with the more difficult things. And this is the defence that we ought to present to such parents as are angry because their children study philosophy. "Very well then, father, I go astray, not knowing what is incumbent upon me or what my duty is. Now if this is a thing that can neither be taught nor learned, why do you reproach me? But if it can be taught, teach me; and if you cannot do this, allow me to learn from those who profess to know. Really, what is your idea? That I intentionally fall into evil and miss the good? Far from it! What, then, is the cause of my going astray? Ignorance. Very well, do you not want me to put away my ignorance? Whom did anger ever teach the art of steering, or music? Do you think, then, that your anger will make me learn the art of living?"
Only he can so speak who has applied himself to philosophy in such a spirit. But if a man reads upon the subject and resorts to the philosophers merely because he wants to make a display at a banquet of his knowledge of hypothetical arguments, what else is he doing but trying to win the admiration of some senator sitting by his side? For there in Rome are found in truth the great resources, while the riches of Nicopolis look to them like mere child's-play. Hence it is difficult there for a man to control his own external impressions, since the distracting influences at Rome are great. I know a certain man who clung in tears to the knees of Epaphroditus and said that he was in misery; for he had nothing left but a million and a half sesterces. What, then, did Epaphroditus do? Did he laugh at him as you are laughing? No; he only said, in a tone of amazement, "Poor man, how, then, did you manage to keep silence? How did you endure it?"
Once when he had disconcerted the student who was reading the hypothetical arguments, and the one who had set the other the passage to read laughed at him, Epictetus said to the latter, "You are laughing at yourself. You did not give the young man a preliminary training, nor discover whether he was able to follow these arguments, but you treat him merely as a reader. Why is it, then," he added, "that to a mind unable to follow a judgement upon a complex argument we entrust the assigning of praise or blame, or the passing of a judgement upon what is done well or ill? If such a person speaks ill of another, does the man in question pay any attention to him, or if he praises another, is the latter elated? when the one who is dispensing praise or blame is unable, in tnatters as trivial as these, to find the logical consequence? This, then, is a starting point in philosophy—a perception of the state of one's own governing principle; for when once a man realizes that it is weak, he will no longer wish to employ it upon great matters. But as it is, some who are unable to swallow the morsel buy a whole treatise and set to work to eat that. Consequently they throw up, or have indigestion; after that come colics and fluxes and fevers. But they ought first to have considered whether they have the requisite capacity. However, in a matter of theory it is easy enough to confute the man who does not know, but in the affairs of life a man does not submit himself to confutation, and we hate the person who has confuted us. But Socrates used to tell us not to live a life unsubjected to examination.
In how many ways do the external impressions arise, and what aids should we have ready at hand to deal with them?
The external impressions come to us in four ways; for either things are, and seem so to be; or they are not, and do not seem to be, either; or they are, and do not seem to be; or they are not, and yet seem to be. Consequently, in all these cases it is the business of the educated man to hit the mark. But whatever be the thing that distresses us, against that we ought to bring up our reinforcements. If the things that distress us are sophisms of Pyrrho and the Academy, let us bring up our reinforcements against them; if they are the plausibilities of things, whereby we are led to think that certain things are good when they are not, let us seek reinforcements at that point; if the thing that distresses us is a habit, we should try to hunt up the reinforcements with which to oppose that. What reinforcements, then, is it possible to find with which to oppose habit? Why, the contrary habit. You hear the common folk saying, "That poor man! He is dead; his father perished, and his mother; he was cut off, yes, and before his time, and in a foreign land." Listen to the arguments on the other side, tear yourself away from these expressions, set over against one habit the contrary habit. To meet sophistic arguments we must have the processes of logic and the exercise and the familiarity with these; against the plausibilities of things we must have our preconceptions clear, polished like weapons, and ready at hand.
When death appears to be an evil, we must have ready at hand the argument that it is our duty to avoid evils, and that death is an inevitable thing. For what can I do? Where shall I go to escape it? Suppose that I am Sarpedon the son of Zeus, in order that I may nobly say, as he did: "Seeing that I have left my home for the war, I wish either to win the prize of valour myself, or else to give someone else the chance to win it; if I am unable to succeed in something myself, I shall not begrudge another the achievement of some noble deed." Granted that such an act as Sarpedon's is beyond us, does not the other alternative fall within the compass of our powers? And where can I go to escape death? Show me the country, show me the people to whom I may go, upon whom death does not come; show me a magic charm against it. If I have none, what do you wish me to do? I cannot avoid death. Instead of avoiding the fear of it, shall I die in lamentation and trembling? For the origin of sorrow is this—to wish for something that does not come to pass. Therefore, if I can change externals according to my own wish, I change them; but if I cannot, I am ready to tear out the eyes of the man who stands in my way. For it is man's nature not to endure to be deprived of the good, not to endure to fall into the evil. Then, finally, when I can neither change the circumstances, nor tear out the eyes of the man who stands in my way, I sit down and groan, and revile whom I can—Zeus and the rest of the gods; for if they do not care for me, what are they to me? "Yes," you say, "but that will be impious of you." What, then, shall I get that is worse than what I have now? In short, we must remember this—that unless piety and self-interest be conjoined, piety cannot be maintained in any man. Do not these considerations seem urgent?
Let the follower of Pyrrho or of the Academy come and oppose us. Indeed I, for my part, have no leisure for such matters, nor can I act as advocate to the commonly received opinion. If I had a petty suit about a mere bit of land, I should have called in some one else to be my advocate. With what evidence, then, am I satisfied? With that which belongs to the matter in hand. To the question how perception arises, whether through the whole body, or from some particular part, perhaps I do not know how to give a reasonable answer, and both views perplex me. But that you and I are not the same persons, I know very certainly. Whence do I get this knowledge? When I want to swallow something, I never take the morsel to that place but to this; when I wish to take bread I never take sweepings, but I always go after the bread as to a mark. And do you yourselves, who take away the evidence of the senses, do anything else? Who among you when he wishes to go to a bath goes to a mill instead?—What then? Ought we not to the best of our ability hold fast also to this—maintain, that is, the commonly received opinion, and be on our guard against the arguments that seek to overthrow it?—And who disputes that? But only the man who has the power and the leisure should devote himself to these studies; while the man who is trembling and perplexed and whose heart is broken within him, ought to devote his leisure to something else.
That we ought not to be angry with men; and what are the little things and the great among men?
What is the reason that we assent to anything? The fact that it appears to us to be so. It is impossible, therefore, to assent to the thing that appears not to be so. Why? Because this is the nature of the intellect—to agree to what is true, to be dissatisfied with what is false, and to withhold judgement regarding what is uncertain. What is the proof of this? "Feel, if you can, that it is now night." That is impossible. "Put away the feeling that it is day." That is impossible. "Either feel or put away the feeling that the stars are even in number." That is impossible. When, therefore, a man assents to a falsehood, rest assured that it was not his wish to assent to it as false; "for every soul is unwillingly deprived of the truth," as Plato says; it only seemed to him that the false was true. Well now, in the sphere of actions what have we corresponding to the true and the false here in the sphere of perceptions? Duty and what is contrary to duty, the profitable and the unprofitable, that which is appropriate to me and that which is not appropriate to me, and whatever is similar to these. "Cannot a man, then, think that something is profitable to him, and yet not choose it?" He cannot. How of her who says.
Now, now, I learn what horrors I intend:
But passion overmastereth sober thought?
It is because the very gratification of her passion and the taking of vengeance on her husband she regards as more profitable than the saving of her children. "Yes, but she is deceived." Show her clearly that she is deceived, and she will not do it; but so long as you do not show it, what else has she to follow but that which appears to her to be true? Nothing. Why, then, are you angry with her, because the poor woman has gone astray in the greatest matters, and has been transformed from a human being into a viper? Why do you not, if anything, rather pity her? As we pity the blind and the halt, why do we not pity those who have been made blind and halt in their governing faculties?
Whoever, then, bears this clearly in mind, that the measure of man's every action is the impression of his senses (now this impression may be formed rightly or wrongly; if rightly, the man is blameless; if wrongly, the man himself pays the penalty; for it is impossible that the man who has gone astray, is one person, while the man who suffers is another),—whoever remembers this, I say, will not be enraged at anyone, will not be angry with anyone, will not revile anyone, will not blame, nor hate, nor take offence at anyone. So you conclude that such great and terrible things have their origin in this—the impression of one's senses? In this and nothing else. The Iliad is nothing but a sense-impression and a poet's use of sense-impressions. There came to Alexander an impression to carry off the wife of Menelaus, and an impression came to Helen to follow him. Now if an impression had led Menelaus to feel that it was a gain to be deprived of such a wife, what would have happened? We should have lost not merely the Iliad, but the Odyssey as well.—Then do matters of such great import depend upon one that is so small:—But what do you mean by "matters of such great import"? Wars and factions and deaths of many men and destructions of cities? And what is there great in all this?—What, nothing great in this?—Why, what is there great in the death of many oxen and many sheep and the burning and destruction of many nests of swallows or storks?—Is there any similarity between this and that?—A great similarity. Men's bodies perished in the one case, and bodies of oxen and sheep in the other. Petty dwellings of men were burned, and so were nests of storks. What is there great or dreadful about that? Or else show me in what respect a man's house and a stork's nest differ as a place of habitation.—Is there any similarity between a stork and a man?—What is that you say? As far as the body is concerned, a great similarity; except that the petty houses of men are made of beams and tiles and bricks, but the nest of a stork is made of sticks and clay.
Does a man, then, differ in no wise from a stork?—Far from it; but in these matters he does not differ.—In what wise, then, does he differ?—Seek and you will find that he differs in some other respect. See whether it be not in his understanding what he does, see whether it be not in his capacity for social action, in his faithfulness, his self-respect, his steadfastness, his security from error, his intelligence. Where, then, is the great evil and the great good among men? Just where the difference is; and if that element wherein the difference lies be preserved and stands firm and well fortified on every side, and neither his self-respect, nor his faithfulness, nor his intelligence be destroyed, then the man also is preserved; but if any of these qualities be destroyed or taken by storm, then the man also is destroyed. And it is in this sphere that the great things are. Did Alexander come to his great fall when the Hellenes assailed Troy with their ships, and when they were devastating the land, and when his brothers were dying? Not at all; for no one comes to his fall because of another's deed; but what went on then was merely the destruction of storks' nests. Nay, he came to his fall when he lost his self-respect, his faithfulness, his respect for the laws of hospitality, his decency of behaviour. When did Achilles come to his fall? When Patroclus died? Far from it; but when Achilles himself was enraged, when he was crying about a paltry damsel, when he forgot that he was there, not to get sweethearts, but to make war. These are the falls that come to mankind, this is the siege of their city, this is the razing of it—when their correct judgements are torn down, when these are destroyed.—Then when women are driven off into captivity, and children are enslaved, and when the men themselves are slaughtered, are not all these things evils?—Where do you get the justification for adding this opinion? Let me know also.—No, on the contrary, do you let me know where you get the justification for saying that they are not evils?—Let us turn to our standards, produce your preconceptions.
For this is why I cannot be sufficiently astonished at what men do. In a case where we wish to judge of weights, we do not judge at haphazard; where we wish to judge what is straight and what is crooked, we do not judge at haphazard; in short, where it makes any difference to us to know the truth in the case, no one of us will do anything at haphazard. Yet where there is involved the first and only cause of acting aright or erring, of prosperity or adversity, of failure or success, there alone are we haphazard and headlong. There I have nothing like a balance, there nothing like a standard, but some sense-impression comes and immediately I go and act upon it. What, am I any better than Agamemnon or Achilles—are they because of following the impressions of their senses to do and suffer such evils, while I am to be satisfied with the impression of my senses? And what tragedy has any other source than this? What is the Atreus of Euripides? His sense-impression. The Oedipus of Sophocles? His sense-impression. The Phoenix? His sense-impression. The Hippolytus? His sense-impression. What kind of a man, then, do you think he is who pays no attention to this matter? What are those men called who follow every impression of their senses?—Madmen.—Are we, then, acting differently?
The essence of the good is a certain kind of moral purpose, and that of the evil is a certain kind of moral purpose. VVhat, then, are the external things? They are materials for the moral purpose, in dealing with which it will find its own proper good or evil. How will it find the good? If it does not admire the materials. For the judgements about the materials, if they be correct, make the moral purpose good, but if they be crooked and awrv, they make it evil. This is the law which God has ordained, and He says, "If you wish any good thing, get it from yourself." You say, "No, but from someone else." Do not so, but get it from yourself. For the rest, when the tyrant threatens and summons me, I answer "Whom are you threatening?" If he says, "I will put you in chains," I reply, "He is threatening my hands and my feet." If he says, "I will behead you," I answer, "He is threatening my neck." If he says, "I will throw you into prison," I say, "He is threatening my whole paltry body"; and if he threatens me with exile, I give the same answer.—Does he, then, threaten you not at all?—If I feel that all this is nothing to me,—not at all; but if I am afraid of any of these threats, it is I whom he threatens. Who is there left, then, for me to fear? The man who is master of what? The things that are under my control? But there is no such man. The man who is master of the things that are not under my control? And what do I care for them?
Do you philosophers, then, teach us to despise our kings?—Far from it. Who among us teaches you to dispute their claim to the things over which they have authority? Take my paltry body, take my property, take my reputation, take those who are about me. If I persuade any to lay claim to these things, let some man truly accuse me. "Yes, but I wish to control your judgements also." And who has given you this authority? How can you have the power to overcome another's judgement? "By bringing fear to bear upon him," he says, "I shall overcome him." You fail to realize that the judgement overcame itself, it was not overcome by something else; and nothing else can overcome moral purpose, but it overcomes itself. For this reason too the law of God is most good and most just: "Let the better always prevail over the worse." "Ten are better than one," you say. For what? For putting in chains, for killing, for dragging away where they will, for taking away a man's property. Ten overcome one, therefore, in the point in which they are better. In what, then, are they worse? If the one has correct judgements, and the ten have not. What then? Can they overcome in this point? How can they? But if we are weighed in the balance, must not the heavier draw down the scales?
So that a Socrates may suffer what he did at the hands of the Athenians?—Slave, why do you say "Socrates"? Speak of the matter as it really is and say: That the paltry body of Socrates may be carried off and dragged to prison by those who were stronger than he, and that some one may give hemlock to the paltry body of Socrates, and that it may grow cold and die? Does this seem marvellous to you, does this seem unjust, for this do you blame God? Did Socrates, then, have no compensation for this? In what did the essence of the good consist for him? To whom shall we listen, to you or to Socrates himself? And what does he say? "Anytus and Meletus can kill me, but they cannot hurt me." And again, "If so it is pleasing to God, so let it be." But do you prove that one who holds inferior judgements prevails over the man who is superior in point of judgements. You will not be able to prove this; no, nor even come near proving it. For this is a law of nature and of God: "Let the better always prevail over the worse." Prevail in what? In that in which it is better. One body is stronger than another body; several persons are stronger than one; the thief is stronger than the man who is not a thief. That is why I lost my lamp, because in the matter of keeping awake the thief was better than I was. However, he bought a lamp for a very high price; for a lamp he became a thief, for a lamp he became faithless, for a lamp he became beast-like. This seemed to him to be profitable!
Very well; but now someone has taken hold of me by my cloak and pulls me into the market-place, and then others shout at me, "Philosopher, what good have your judgements done you? See, you are being dragged off to prison; see, you are going to have your head cut off." And what kind of Introduction to Philosophy could I have studied, which would prevent me from being dragged off, if a man who is stronger than I am should take hold of my cloak? Or would prevent me from being thrown into the prison, if ten men should hustle me and throw me unto it? Have I, then, learned nothing else? I have learned to see that everything which happens, if it be outside the realm of my moral purpose, is nothing to me.—Have you, then, derived no benefit from this principle for the present case? Why, then, do you seek your benefit in something other than that in which you have learned that it is?—Well, as I sit in the prison I say, "The fellow who shouts this at me neither understands what is meant, nor follows what is said, nor has he taken any pains at all to know what philosophers say, or what they do. Don't mind him." "But come out of the prison again." If you have no further need of me in the prison, I shall come out; if you ever need me there again, I shall go back in. For how long? For so long as reason chooses that I remain with my paltry body; but when reason does not so choose, take it and good health to you! Only let me not give up my life irrationally, only let me not give up my life faintheartedly, or from some casual pretext. For again, God does not so desire; for He has need of such a universe, and of such men who go to and fro upon earth. But if He gives the signal to retreat, as He did to Socrates, I must obey Him who gives the signal, as I would a general.
What then? Must I say these things to the multitude? For what purpose? Is it not sufficient for a man himself to believe them? For example, when the children come up to us and clap their hands and say, "To-day is the good Saturnalia," do we say to them, "All this is not good"? Not at all; but we too clap our hands to them. And do you too, therefore, when you are unable to make a man change his opinion, realize that he is a child and clap your hands to him; but if you do not want to do this, you have merely to hold your peace.
All this a man ought to remember, and when he is summoned to meet some such difficulty, he ought to know that the time has come to show whether we are educated. For a young man leaving school and facing a difficulty is like one who has practised the analysis of syllogisms, and if someone propounds him one that is easy to solve, he says, "Nay, rather propound me one that is cunningly involved, so that I may get exercise from it." Also the athletes are displeased with the youths of light weight: "He cannot lift me," says one. "Yonder is a sturdy young man." Oh no; but when the crisis calls, he has to weep and say, "I wanted to keep on learning." Learning what? If you do not learn these things so as to be able to manifest them in action, what did you learn them for? I fancy that someone among these who are sitting here is in travail within his own soul and is saying, "Alas, that such a difficulty does not come to me now as that which has come to this fellow! Alas, that now I must be worn out sitting in a corner, when I might be crowned at Olympia! When will someone bring me word of such a contest?" You ought all to be thus minded. But among the gladiators of Caesar there are some who complain because no one brings them out, or matches them with an antagonist, and they pray God and go to their managers, begging to fight in single combat; and yet will no one of you display a like spirit? I wanted to sail to Rome for this very purpose and to see what my athlete is doing, what practice he is following in his task. "I do not want," says he, "this kind of a task." What, is it in your power to take any task you want? You have been given such a body, such parents, such brothers, such a country, such a position in it; and then do you come to me and say, "Change the task for me"? What, do you not possess resources to enable you to utilize that which has been given? You ought to say, "It is yours to set the task, mine to practise it well." No, but you do say, "Do not propose to me such-and-such a hypothetical syllogism, but rather such-and-such a one; do not urge upon me such-and-such a conclusion, but rather such-and-such a one." A time will soon come when the tragic actors will think that their masks and buskins and the long robe are themselves. Man, all these things you have as a subject-matter and a task. Say something, so that we may know whether you are a tragic actor or a buffoon; for both of these have everything but their lines in common. Therefore, if one should take away from him both his buskins and his mask, and bring him on the stage as a mere shade of an actor, is the tragic actor lost, or does he abide? If he has a voice, he abides.
And so it is in actual life. "Take a governorship." I take it and having done so I show how an educated man comports himself. "Lay aside the laticlave, and having put on rags come forward in a character to correspond." What then? Has it not been given me to display a fine voice. "In what role, then, do you mount the stage now?" As a witness summoned by God. God says, "Go you and bear witness for Me; for you are worthy to be produced by me as a witness. Is any of those things which lie outside the range of the moral purpose either good or evil? Do I injure any man? Have I put each man's advantage under the control of any but himself?" What kind of witness do you bear for God?" I am in sore straits, O Lord, and in misfortune; no one regards me, no one gives me anything, all blame me and speak ill of me? Is this the witness that you are going to bear, and is this the way in which you are going to disgrace the summons which He gave you, in that He bestowed this honour upon you and deemed you worthy to be brought forward in order to bear testimony so important?
But the one who has authority over you declares, "I pronounce you impious and profane." What has happened to you? "I have been pronounced impious and profane." Nothing else? "Nothing." But if he had passed judgement upon some hypothetical syllogism and had made a declaration, "I judge the statement, 'If it is day, there is light,' to be false," what has happened to the hypothetical syllogism? Who is being judged in this case, who has been condemned? The hypothetical syllogism, or the man who has been deceived in his judgement about it? Who in the world, then, is this man who has authority to make any declaration about you? Does he know what piety or impiety is? Has he pondered the matter? Has he learned it? Where? Under whose instruction? And yet a musician pays no attention to him, if he declares that the lowest string is the highest, nor does a geometrician, if the man decides that the lines extending from the centre to the circumference of a circle are not equal; but shall the truly educated man pay attention to an uninstructed person when he passes judgement on what is holy and unholy, and on what is just and unjust?
How great is the injustice committed by the educated in so doing! Is this, then, what you have learned here? Will you not leave to others, mannikins incapable of taking pains, the petty quibbles about these things, so that they may sit in a corner and gather in their petty fees, or grumble because nobody gives them anything, and will you not yourself come forward and make use of what you have learned? For what is lacking now is not quibbles; nay, the books of the Stoics are full of quibbles. What, then, is the thing lacking now? The man to make use of them, the man to bear witness to the arguments by his acts. This is the character I would have you assume, that we may no longer use old examples in the school, but may have some example from our own time also. Whose part is it, then, to contemplate these matters? The part of him who devotes himself to learning; for man is a kind of animal that loves contemplation. But it is disgraceful to con- template these things like runaway slaves; nay, sit rather free from distractions and listen, now to tragic actor and now to the citharoede, and not as those runaways do. For at the very moment when one of them is paying attention and praising the tragic actor, he takes a glance around, and then if someone mentions the word "master," they are instantly all in a flutter and upset. It is disgraceful for men who are philosophers to contemplate the works of nature in this spirit. For what is a "master"? One man is not master of another man, but death and life and pleasure and hardship are his masters. So bring Caesar to me, if he be without these things, and you shall see how steadfast I am. But when he comes with them, thundering and lightening, and I am afraid of them, what else have I done but recognized my master, like the runaway slave? But so long as I have, as it were, only a respite from these threats, I too am acting like a runaway slave who is a spectator in a theatre; I bathe, I drink, I sing, but I do it all in fear and misery. But if I emancipate myself from my masters, that is, from those things which render masters terrifying, what further trouble do I have, what master any more?
What then? Must I proclaim this to all men? No, but I must treat with consideration those who are not philosophers by profession, and say, "This man advises for me that which he thinks good in his own case; therefore I excuse him." For Socrates excused the jailor who wept for him when he was about to drink the poison, and said, "How generously he has wept for us!" Does he, then, say to the jailor, "This is why we sent the women away"? No, but he makes this latter remark to his intimate friends, to those who were fit to hear it; but the jailor he treats with consideration like a child.
What aid ought we to have ready at hand in difficulties?
When you come into the presence of some prominent man, remember that Another looks from above on what is taking place, and that you must please Him rather than this man. He, then, who is above asks of you, "In your school what did you call exile and imprisonment and bonds and death and disrepute?" "I called them 'things indifferent.'" "What, then, do you call them now? Have they changed at all?" "No." "Have you, then, changed?" "No." "Tell me, then, what things are 'indifferent.'" "Those that are independent of the moral purpose." "Tell me also what follows." "Things independent of the moral purpose are nothing to me." "Tell me also what you thought were 'the good things.'" "A proper moral purpose and a proper use of external impressions." "And what was the 'end'?" "To follow Thee." "Do you say all that even now?" "I say the same things even now." Then enter in, full of confidence and mindful of all this, and you shall see what it means to be a young man who has studied what he ought, when he is in the presence of men who have not studied. As for me, by the gods, I fancy that you will feel somewhat like this: "Why do we make such great and elaborate preparations to meet what amounts to nothing? Was this what authority amounted to? Was this what the vestibule, the chamberlains, the armed guards amounted to? Was it for all this that I listened to those long discourses? Why, all this never amounted to anything, but I was preparing for it as though it were something great."
- The contrast intended is between γράφω, "write," § 2, and συγγράφω, "compose." Arrian had in mind, no doubt, the works of Plato and Xenophon, which, although they purported to reproduce the words of Socrates, were in fact highly finished literary compositions.
- δυνάμεις includes arts as well as faculties, and both are dealt with in this context.
- Compare I. ii. 38.
- The exact meaning of σπὠμενοι is uncertain.
- Alluding to Homer, Odyssey, X. 21.
- For all ordinary proper names the reader is referred to the Index.
- The point of the retort lies in the defiance of the officious but all-powerful freedman.
- The idea seems to be: By disregarding externals I do not hinder the natural course of my mind and character, that is, my true self.
- The word πρὀσωπον carries something of the figurative meaning "role" from the language of drama.
- Referring to the scourging of Spartan youths before the altar of Artemis.
- This was clearly the contribution to Nero's festival which Florus was expected to make.
- The reference is to the band of bright red (commonly called "purple") woven into the hem of the toga praetexta.
- Bato seems to have been a well-known athletic trainer of the time. At least one, and possibly two gladiators at Rome bore this name. C.I.L. I. 718, VI. 10188.
- Philosophers, especially Stoics and Cynics, regularly wore beards in antiquity. See I. 16, 9 ff.
- Ancient armies generally disbanded or went into permanent quarters during the winter To continue military training throughout the winter months was indicative of a sincere and strenuous endeavour.
- The characteristic moral achievement which the Stoics sought. The metaphor in the first expression, τὸ εὔρουν, is admirably rendered by Seneca, Epist. 120. 11, beata vita, secundo defluens cursu.
- See the Encheiridion, II. 2: "But for the present totally make way with desire."
- i.e., the result at which virtue aims.
- These are the three spheres or fields (τόποι) of human activity, inclination, choice, and intellectual assent, upon which the Stoics laid great stress. For a fuller discussion see below III 2, 1 ff.
- Broad-jumpers in antiquity carried weights which on being thrust backwards while the jumper was in mid-air seem to have added materially to the distance covered. These same weights were also used like our dumb-bells for the development of the arm and trunk muscles, as is apparently the case here.
- The title, apparently, of a short work by Chrysippus, but known only from this passage. Zeno and Cleanthes wrote also on the subject.
- The poison with which Socrates was put to death.
- Plato, Crito, 43 D.
- Probably by witnessing tragedies, the plots of which, although fictitious, may teach moral lessons.
- The phrase is from Plato, Crito, 48 B.
- Referring probably to the mind of Chrysippus.
- See also II. 20. 4. Epictetus condemns the exaggerations of the Academic principle of suspended judgement, which was based on the doctrine that nothing could be actually known. Cf. Cicero Acad. I. 45: Arcesilas (a prominent Academic) negabat esse quidquam quod sciri posset . . . sic omnia latere in occulto: neque esse quidquam quod cerni aut intellegi posset: quibus de causis nihil oportere neque profiteri neque adfirmare quemquam neque adsensione approbare, etc.
- The famous gold and ivory statue of Zeus.
- With the Stoics, whose sole standard of judgement in problems of conduct was the appeal to reason, the proper training of the reasoning faculties was an indispensable prerequisite to the good life. Three modes of sophistical reasoning are here differentiated. "Equivocal premisses" (μεταπίπτοντες λόγοι) are those that contain ambiguities in terms which are intended to mean one thing at one step in the argument, another at another. "Hypothetical premisses" involve assumptions, or conditions. The last class proceeds by drawing unexpected conclusions from the answers to questions.
- An enthymeme is defined by Aristotle (Rhet. 1. i. 11) as "a rhetorical demonstration," that is, an argument expressed in ordinary literary style, not in the formal fashion of a syllogism. It is thus called an "incomplete syllogism" (§ 3 below), as falling short of the "definite proof" accorded by the syllogism.
- The terms "Athenian," "Corinthian," etc., characterize citizens of a country, not merely of a locality, i.e., citizens of Attica or Corinthia. The "corner" in which one was born might have been Marathon, Rhamnus, Lechaeam, Tenea, or the like.
- This seems to be a quotation from Poseidonius (Diogenes Laertius, VII. 138), but is also ascribed variously to the Stoics in general and especially to Chrysippus (see Diels, Doxographi Graeci, 464, 20 and 465, 15, comparing 20 f.).
- Referring to himself.
- There is less need of his urging them to regard themselves as sons of God than of preventing them, if they are convinced of this, from acting as if the life of the body were a thing to throw aside, and so committing suicide,—a practice which was defended by many Stoics.
- A very free paraphrase of Plato, Apology, 29 C and 28 E.
- At Nicopolis.
- In his youth Epictetus had been a slave.
- The thought seems to be: If the punishment can be humanly borne, I need not petition your master to remit it, for you have within yourself the power to endure it.
- As when a friend might ask for the body of an executed criminal.
- Praefectus annanae, a very important official during the Empire.
- As opposed in the 'active' lives of business or politics.
- The passage is somewhat obscure, because the precise expression employed here occurs elsewhere only in Ench. 49. Apparently Epictetus read over, or made special preparation upon a certain text, before meeting his pupils. In class then he would have a pupil read and interpret an assignment, somewhat what as in our "recitation," and follow that by a reading and exposition of his own (ἐπαναγνῶναι), which was intended to set everything straight and put on the finishing touches. See Schweighauser's note and especially Ivo Bruns, De Schola Epicteti (1897), 8 f. By changing μέ to μοί, as Capps suggests, a satisfactory sense is secured, i.e., "what pupil must read to me," but the ἐπί in the compound verb would thus be left without any particular meaning, and perhaps it is not necessary to emend.
- The course of thought is, "You will have to do much studying before you have mastered this subject; but for the present," etc.
- As, for example, good, or pleasant.
- So Epicurus; see Usener, Epicurea, frg. 368.
- Homer, Iliad, X. 279 f.; compare Xenophon, Memorabilia, I. 1, 19.
- This is the famous principle of συμπάθεια (συμπάθεῖν and συμπέποθεν in the text here), i.e., the physical unity of the cosmos in such a form that the experience of one part necessarily affects every other. This doctrine, especially popular with the Stoics, is essentially but a philosophic formulation of the vague ideas that underlie the practices of sympathetic magic. For the literature on this topic see Pease on Cicero's De Divinatione, ii. 34, where συμπάθεια is defined by Cicero as a coniunetio naturae et quasi concentus et consensus.
- Chrysippus identified the Universe, of which the sun is but a part, with God. See Cicero, De Natura Deorum, ii. 38 f.
- Compare Seneca, Epist. 41, 2: sacer intra nos spiritus sedet, malorum bonorumque nostrorum observator et custos, and especially Menander, Epitr. 881 ff., with Capps's note. Almost exactly the same idea appears also in Marcus Aurelius, V. 27.
- The soul of man, as feeling and thinking, often equivalent to "reason," but not exclusively intellectual. See Bonhöffer, Epictet und die Stoa, i. 9 ff.
- Reason, therefore, can be analyzed only by itself.
- The course of the argument is highly condensed here, but this is the plain sense of the passage.
- A Roman dry measure, slightly less than half a bushel.
- See Xenophon, Memorabilia, IV. 6, 1.
- The famous dictum of Socrates, formulated as, "No man errs voluntarily," in Plato, Protagoras, 345 D.
- Epictetus seems to be placing himself in the position of one of his Roman pupils, who would understand Chrysippus more easily if translated into Latin.
- It is not known just what persons are here referred to, but the doctrine that feeling (πάθος) is a kind of judgement (κρίσις) or opinion (δὀξα) is common among the Stoics. See Bonhöffer, Epiktet und die Stoa, I. 265 ff., and on the general argument in this chapter, p. 276 f.
- An illustration of the famous principle, nil admirari (Horace, Epist. I. 6, 1).
- That is, a man should prove himself invincible by reason and reflection, not by brute strength, or the sheer obstinacy of passive resistance.
- Under all ordinary circumstances the man who is being tested will resist the temptations of money, a maid, secrecy, reputation, and the like. But if, like the athlete, he be tested under abnormal conditions, as when drunk, or mad, or asleep, will he hold out against these temptations even then? If he can, he is indeed invincible.
- The whole passage turns on the various meanings of θεραπεύω, which include serve, attend to, give medical care to, pay attention to, pay court to, flatter, etc.
- That is, the whole order of nature requires every living thing to appropriate, or make its own, whatever it needs in order to maintain life.
- Epaphroditus once owned Epictetus.
- The city in which Epictetus taught during the latter part of his life, and where the present conversation is clearly thought of as taking place. Greek and Roman documents, instead of being attested, as most commonly among us, by a single notary, contained many names of witnesses, eponymous magistrates, supervising officials, and the like. A priest of Augustus would naturally be called in often to sign formal documents in one capacity or another.
- i.e., in the sense of basing action upon only such impressions as have been tested and found to be trustworthy.
- Of one with a stiff and self-important bearing. Our equivalent phrase is "to swallow a ramrod."
- Cf. I. 19, 6, an altar of Fever in Rome.
- The reference here is clearly to Mys ("Mouse"), a favourite slave of Epicurus, who was brought up in his house, and took an active part in his philosophical studies, as Bentley saw (cf. Trans. Amer. Philol. Assoc., LII., 451). There is no evidence to support the common explanation that Epicurus had compared children to mice.
- Since flies have no social organization or relationships, and there is nothing to compel one to live like a man, and not like an unsocial animal, except one's own sense of fitness of things.
- Domitian had banished the philosophers from Rome; the young man is, therefore, being sent from Nicopolis to learn what is going on there that might be of interest to the cause of philosophy.
- The reference must be to the Emperor Domitian, but Epictetus discreetly uses no name.
- Worn by senators.
- Worn by knights.
- Worn by ordinary citizens.
- From an unknown play.
- Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, 1390. Cithaeron was the mountain on which the infant Oedipus had been exposed to die.
- That is, rules of conduct which will guide the inquirer in dealing with these two classes of things.
- The idea seems to be that all these preconceptions, demonstrations, etc., will be found to be based upon the "promptings and directions" of Zeus.
- That is, we accept our hypothesis as long as we can do so in reason; so in life we must be guided by reason.
- A reverent form of reference to Zeus. See also I. 30, 1.
- The course of argument seems to be: I can assume that it is night and reason in a manner consistent with that assumption; but if it really is day, I cannot assume that it really is night, for that is no longer a mere hypothesis, but the statement of a falsehood. I simply "play the game" as long as we are dealing with hypotheses, but must "break up the game" if required to make a false statement about actual facts.
- A small island off Attica in the Aegean, used as a place of exile during the Empire. The ordinary form is Γύαρος.
- He refers to the grave.
- One of the typical forms of argumentation upon which the Stoics laid great stress. The subject is treated at considerable length in I. 7.
- i.e., in the simple life of Nicopolis it is easy to use philosophic doctrines to live by; in Rome the temptation is strong to use them for achieving social distinction.
- That is, the reason; compare note on I. 15, 4.
- cf. Plato, Apology, 38 A: ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ
- And therefore not an evil.
- A paraphrase of Homer, Iliad, XII. 328.
- i.e., if we cannot act as nobly as Sarpedon, we can at least think rationally about death, counting it no evil.
- The accompanying gesture explained the allusion, which was probably to the eye and the mouth, as in II. 20, 28. A Cynic like Diogenes would very likely have illustrated his point in a somewhat coarser fashion; and this is not impossible in the present instance.
- The Pyrrhonists, or Sceptics.
- A rather free paraphrase of Plato, Sophistes, 228 C.
- Euripides, Medea, 1078-1079; translated by Way.
- i.e., not merely does suffering always follow error, but it is also morally unthinkable that one man's error can cause another "suffering," in the Stoic sense; or, in other words, no man can be injured (as Socrates believed; cf. I. 29, 18) or made to "suffer" except by his own act (cf. § 23). It is this fundamental moral postulate of the Stoics which led them to classify so many of the ills of life which one person does actually cause to another as not real evils (cf. §§ 26-8), but ἀδιάφορα, "things indififerent." cf. I. 9, 13; I. 30, 2, etc.
- i.e., the proper control to exercise over one's haphazard sense-impressions.
- The interlocutor takes the case of Socrates as proving that a question of right cannot be settled by weighing judgements in the ordinary fashion, i.e., by counting votes.
- Plato, Apology, 30 C.
- Plato, Crito, 43 D.
- See I. 18, 15.
- Epictetus seems to stop and address himself somewhat abruptly, but the connection of this and the next sentence is not entirely clear. Schweighäuser thought that they were addressed to some one of his pupils.
- Equivalent to our greeting, "Merry Christmas!" In what follows it would appear that the clapping of hands upon this occasion was a kind of salutation, somewhat like the kiss at Easter among Greek Orthodox Christians.
- That is, when, instead of an exercise for practice, he has to meet an actual contestant, or a practical difficulty in life.
- Objecting, that is, to a hypothetical syllogism of a particular kind and proposing another, more to his own liking.
- The toga with a broad stripe of red which was worn by men of senatorial rank.
- The lowest string had, however, the highest note in pitch, and vice versa.
- The runaway slave, always apprehensive that his master may suddenly appear, is nervous and distraught, giving only half his mind to the spectacle before him.
- One who sang to his own accompaniment upon the cithara or harp.
- Slightly modified from Plato, Phaedo, 116D.
- Slightly modified from Plato, Phaedo, 117D.
- That is, God. Compare note on I. 25, 13.