Page:Discourses of Epictetus volume 1 Oldfather 1925.djvu/23

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INTRODUCTION

nature.[1] The celebrated life-formula, ἀνέχου και ἀπέχου, which one feels inclined to retranslate as "Endure and Renounce," in order to give it once more the definite meaning of which the cliché, "Bear and Forbear," has almost robbed it, is, to speak frankly, with all its wisdom, and humility, and purificatory power, not a sufficient programme for a highly organized society making towards an envisaged goal of general improvement.

And again, in youth he must have been almost consumed by a passion for freedom. I know no man upon whose lips the idea more frequently occurs. The words "free" (adjective and verb) and "freedom" appear some 130 times in Epictetus, that is, with a relative frequency about six times that of their occurrence in the New Testament and twice that of their occurrence in Marcus Aurelius, to take contemporary works of somewhat the same general content. And with the attainment of his personal freedom there must have come such an upwelling of gratitude to God as that which finds expression in the beautiful hymn of praise concluding the sixteenth chapter of the first book, so that, while most Stoics assumed or at least recognized the possibility of a kind of immortality, he could wholly dispense with that desire for the survival of personality after death which even Marcus Aurelius felt to be almost necessary for his own austere ideal of happiness.[2]

  1. See Zeller's admirable discussion of this topic, p. 776.
  2. "Sich aber als Menschheit (und nicht nur als Individuum) ebenso vergeudet zu fühlen, wie wir die einzelne Blüthe von der Natur vergeudet sehen, ist ein Gefühl über alle Gefühle.—Wer ist aber desselhen fähig?" F. Nietzsche: Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, I. 51.

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