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The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, [1916], at



As we train ourselves to deal with sophistical questions, so we ought to train ourselves day by day to deal with impressions: for these too propound questions to us.

'The son of So-and-so is dead.'

Answer, That is beyond the will, not an evil.

'So-and-so's father has disinherited him: what do you think?'

It is outside the will, not an evil.

'Caesar has condemned him.'

That is outside the will, not an evil.

'Something has made him grieve.'

That is an act of will, and evil.

'He has endured nobly.'

That is an act of will, and good.

If we acquire this habit, we shall make progress, for we shall never assent to anything but that of which we get a convincing impression. 3-6

The son dies. What happens?

The son dies.

Nothing more?


The ship is lost. What happens?

The ship is lost.

He is led to prison. What happens?

He is led to prison. Each man may add, 'He has fared ill', but if so, that is his own affair.

'Still', you say, 'Zeus does wrong to act so.'

Why? Do you mean because He made you patient, noble-minded, because He saved these things from being evil, because He puts it in your power to endure these troubles and still be happy, because He 'opens the door' to you, when your position is impossible? Leave the scene, man, and do not complain.

If you would know the attitude of the Romans to philosophers, listen to this. Italicus, a man of the highest repute as a philosopher among them, in my presence expressed his indignation at his lot, which he thought intolerable, by saying, 'I cannot bear it: you are ruining me, you will make me like him', and pointed to me!

Next: Chapter IX. To a Rhetor Going up to Rome for a Trial