Epictetus, the Discourses as reported by Arrian, the Manual, and Fragments/Book 3/Chapter 11

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Some scattered sayings

There are certain punishments, assigned as it were by law, for those who are disobedient to the divine dispensation. "Whoever shall regard as good anything but the things that fall within the scope of his moral purpose, let him envy, yearn, flatter, feel disturbed; whoever shall regard anything else as evil, let him sorrow, grieve, lament, be unhappy." Nevertheless, for all that we are so severely punished, we cannot desist.

Remember what the poet[1] says about the stranger:

Stranger, I may not with right dishonour a stranger, not even
Worse man were he than art thou; for of God are all strangers and beggars.

This, then, is what one should have ready to use in the case of a father: "I may not rightfully dishonour a father, not even if a worse man than art thou should come; for of Zeus, the God of Fathers,[2] are they all"; and so in the case of a brother: "For of Zeus, the God of Kindred, are they all." And similarly, in the other social relations, we shall find Zeus overseeing them all.


  1. Homer (frequently so designated, especially in late antiquity), in the Odyssey, XIV. 56-8.
  2. For this aspect of Zeus see O. Gruppe, Griech. Mythol. etc., p. 1116; and especially A. B. Cook, Zeus (index).