Page:Discourses of Epictetus volume 1 Oldfather 1925.djvu/25

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freely the disrespectful remarks of others about him. He is severe in the condemnation of the unrepentant sinner, but charitable towards the naïve wrongdoer, going so far, in fact, in this direction as to advocate principles which would lead to the abolition of all capital punishment.[1] He is much more an angel of mercy than a messenger of vengeance.[2] And this aspect of his character comes out most clearly perhaps in his attitude towards children, for with them a man can be more nearly himself than with his sophisticated associates. No ancient author speaks as frequently of them, or as sympathetically. They are one of his favourite parables,[3] and though he is well aware that a child is only an incomplete man, he likes their straightforwardness in play, he claps his hands to them and returns their "Merry Saturnalia!" greeting, yearns to get down on hands and knees and talk baby talk with them. There is, of course, a sense in which Pascal's stricture of Stoic pride applies to Epictetus, for the Stoic virtues were somewhat self-consciously erected upon the basis of self-respect and self-reliance; but a more humble and charitable Stoic it would have been impossible to find, and what pride there is belongs to the system and not to the man.[4] Towards God he is always devout,

  1. I, 18, especially sections 5 ff.
  2. See Colardeau, p. 209 ff., and Zeller, p. 780 f.
  3. Cf. Renner's interesting study.
  4. Pascal's judgment (to say nothing of the grotesque misconceptions of J. B. Rousseau) was undoubtedly influenced by his preoccupation with the Encheiridion, which, as necessarily in such a compendium of doctrine, is more Stoic than Epictetean, and suppresses many of the more amiable traits of personality. The actual man of the