Page:Discourses of Epictetus volume 1 Oldfather 1925.djvu/15

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


feeble health, and lame, the latter probably because of the brutality of a master in his early years;[1]

  1. This is generally doubted nowadays, especially since Bentley's emphatic pronouncement (cf. Trans. Am. Philol. Assoc., 1921, 53, 42) in favour of the account in Suidas, to the effect that his lameness was the result of rheumatism. Ceteris paribus one would, of course, accept as probable the less sensational story. But it requires unusual powers of credulity to believe Suidas against any authority whomsoever, and in this case the other authorities are several, early, and excellent. In the first place Celsus (in Origen, contra Celsum, VII, 53), who was probably a younger contemporary of Epictetus and had every occasion to be well informed; further, Origen (l.c.), who clearly accepted and believed the story, since his very answer to the argument admits the authenticity of the account, while the easiest or most convincing retort would have been to deny it; then Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Caesarius (in a number of places, see the testimonia in Schenkl², pp viii–ix; of course the absurdities in Pseudo-Nonnus, Cosmas of Jerusalem, Elias of Crete, et id genus omne, have no bearing either way). Now the fact that such men as Origen and Gregory accepted and propagated the account (even though Epictetus, and in this particular instance especially, had been exploited as a pagan saint, the equal or the superior of even Jesus himself) is sufficient to show that the best informed Christians of the third and fourth centuries knew of no other record. To my feeling it is distinctly probable that the denial of the incident may have emanated from some over-zealous Christian, in a period of less scrupulous apologetics, who thought to take down the Pagans a notch or two. The very brief statement in Simplicius, "that he was lame from an early period of his life" (Comm. on the Encheiridion, 102b Heins.), establishes nothing and would agree perfectly with either story. The connection in which the words occur would make any explanatory digression unnatural, and, whereas similar conciseness in Plutarch might perhaps argue ignorance of further details, such an inference would be false for Simplicius, the dullness of whose commentary is so portentous that it cannot be explained as merely the unavoidable