Page:Discourses of Epictetus volume 1 Oldfather 1925.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


preoccupied him in his youth, that throughout his life he was obsessed with the fear of restraint, and tended to regard mere liberty, even in its negative aspect alone, as almost the highest conceivable good. It is perhaps no less noteworthy that he came from Hierapolis in Phrygia. From of old the Phrygians had conceived of their deities with a singular intensity and entered into their worship with a passion that was often fanaticism, and sometimes downright frenzy. It is, therefore, not unnatural that the one Greek philosopher who, despite the monistic and necessitarian postulates of his philosophy, conceived of his God in as vivid a fashion as the writers of the New Testament, and almost as intimately as the founder of Christianity himself, should have inherited the passion for a personal god from the folk and land of his nativity.[1]

Beside these two illuminating facts, the other details of his life history are of relatively little importance. He was owned for a time by Epaphroditus, the freedman and administrative secretary of Nero, and it was while yet in his service that he began to take lessons from Musonius Rufus, the greatest Stoic teacher of the age, whose influence was the dominant one in his career.[2] He was of

  1. It is noteworthy, as Lagrange, p. 201, observes, that Montanus, who soon after the time of Epictetus "threatened Christianity with the invasion of undisciplined spiritual graces," was also a Phrygian.
  2. So many passages in Epictetus can be paralleled closely from the remaining fragments of Rufus (as Epictetus always calls him) that there can be no doubt but the system of thought in the pupil is little more than an echo, with changes of emphasis due to the personal equation, of that of the master.