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



The first difference between the philosopher and the uneducated man is that the latter says, 'Woe is me for my child, for my brother, woe is me for my father', and the other, if he is compelled to speak, considers the matter and says, Woe is me for myself.' For nothing outside the will can hinder or harm the will; it can only harm itself. If then we accept this, and, when things go amiss, are inclined to blame ourselves, remembering that judgement alone can disturb our peace and constancy, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress.

Instead of this we have come the wrong way from the beginning. When we were still children, if we stumbled when we were star-gazing, the nurse, instead of rebuking us, struck the stone. What is wrong with the stone? Was it to move out of the way because of your child's folly? Again, if (when children) we do not find something to eat after our bath our attendant does not check our appetite, but flogs the cook. Man, did we appoint you to attend on the cook? No, on our child: correct him, do him good. So even when we are grown up we appear like children: for it is being a child to be unmusical in musical things, ungrammatical in grammar, uneducated in life.

Next: Chapter XX. That Benefit May be Derived From All Outward Things