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produce this effect, they will have, I think, the result which
the words of philosophers ought to have. But if they shall
not, let those who read them know that, when Epictetus
delivered them, the hearer could not avoid being affected
in the way that Epictetus wished him to be. But if the


" Discourses " themselves, as they are written, do not effect
this result, it may be that the fault is mine, or, it may be,
that the thing is unavoidable.


1 A. Gellius (i, 2, and xvii, 19) speaks of the " Discourses of Epictetus "
as arranged by Arrian ; Gellius (xix, i) speaks of a fifth book of these
" Discourses," but only four are extant and some fragments. The whole
number of books was eight, as Photius (Cod. 58) says. There is also an
" Encheiridion " or " Manual," consisting of short pieces selected from
the "Discourses of Epictetus," and the valuable commentary on the
" Encheiridion" written by Simplicius in the sixth century A. D., in the
reign of Justinian.

Arrian explains in a manner what he means by saying that he did not
write these " Discourses of Epictetus" ; but he does not explain his mean-
ing when he says that he did not make them public. He tells us that he
did attempt to write down in the words of Epictetus what the philosopher
said ; but how it happened that they were first published, without his
knowledge or consent, Arrian does not say. It appears, however, that he
did see the "Discourses" when they were published; and as Schweig-
hauser remarks, he would naturally correct any errors that he detected,
and so there would be an edition revised by himself. Schweighauser
has a note (i, ch. 26, 13) on the difficulties which we now find in the
" Discourses."




I. Of the things that are in our power, and not in our power . i
II. How a man on every occasion can maintain his proper

character . ....... . ,. . . 6

III. How a man should proceed from the principle of God being

the Father of all men to the rest . .... . . 10

IV. Of progress or improvement ,....>; ,- . . . .12
V. Against the academics . .,>;,, . .,-* 16

VI. Of Providence . . . ..... ... - vrt ..,., , . . . 17

VII. Of the use of sophistical, hypothetical, and the like argu-
ments . . . . . . .; ^ . ;'.* .21

VIII. That the faculties are not safe to the uninstructed . . 25
IX. How from the fact that we are akin to God a man may

proceed to the consequences .,.;.. . . .27

X. Against those who eagerly seek preferment at Rome . . 31
XI. Of natural affection .... . . . . 33

XII. Of contentment ,,-, ,.,..; . 37

XIII. How everything may be done acceptably to the gods . . 41

XIV. That the Deity oversees all things .,-.<,>,.-. ^- . . 42
XV. What philosophy promises .-....!;. . . .44

XVI. Of Providence . ^-,, m - ! ,.. -, ,>,-. >.,*, ?#, : . , . . .45

XVII. That the logical art is necessary . ;. ,, . . . . 47

XVIII. That we ought not to be angry with the errors (faults) of

others ... . <:, , ; . . . . . r \^ f/ ^ . . 51

XIX. How we should behave to tyrants ,;. t . ..j, ,,,,< ',/ . -55

XX. How reason contemplates itself . . . . . .58

XXI. Against those who wish to be admired . ' . - . .61

XXII. Of prascognitions ... 62

XXIII. Against Epicurus . . . . ( , . . .65

XXIV. How we should struggle with circumstances . . .66
XXV. On the same subject . . . ... ; ,. -69

XXVI. What the law of life is 73


XV 111





In how many ways appearances exist, and what aids

we should provide against them 76

That we ought not to be angry with men ; and what are

the small and great things among men ... 79

On constancy (or firmness) 83

What we ought to have ready in difficult circumstances 91


I. That courage is not inconsistent with caution ... 92
II. Of tranquility (freedom from perturbation) . . .98

III. To those who recommend persons to philosophers . . 101

IV. Against a person who had once been detected in adul-

tery .''..'. .102

V. How magnanimity is consistent with care . " ;j . 104
VI. Of indifference . . '*'.'.': t. . . .!'. . 108
VII. How we ought to use divination ' -i- . ' . '.' '. 112
VIII. What is the nature of the good : -.-' * ;',".. . . 114
IX. That when we can not fulfil that which the character of
a man promises, we assume the character of a philoso-
pher 119

X. How we may discover the duties of life from names . 123

XI. What the beginning of philosophy is . A;. ..-Ml . 137

XII. Of disputation or discussion . ',>-' .1 ; . . 130

XIII. On anxiety (solicitude) . : i. ;- - ;f; . - -v . . ^ 1^3

XIV. ToNaso . . . . . >'<,- . . . .137
XV. To or against those who obstinately persist in what they

have determined . . > ; .' ,' . . . . . 141
XVI. That we do not strive to use our opinions about good

and evil . . v ; "- i!i - /', 'Sij< : - m <'v-.-: ' I ! . /. 144

XVII. How we must adapt preconceptions to particular cases . 150

XVIII. How we should struggle against appearances. >. ,. : . 155
XIX. Against those who embrace philosophical opinions only

in words ..-.-.. . : i > . .159

XX. Against the Epicureans and Academics . >.vj .; .. . 164

XXI. Of inconsistency . . . ; . . . . 170

XXII. On friendship . - V'<t ^MV <'< '. ' * . . . 173

XXIII. On the power of speaking , ^ '- : ;.-.>. i. 179

XXIV. To (or against) a person who was one of those who

were not valued (esteemed) by him . . . ' . 186

XXV. That logic is necessary . . . . . . '/ . 190

XXVI. What is the property of error . . r- . .. , .i'.. 191





I. Of finery in dress . , f , .>, ,..;; : ,. F ; y :.
II. In what a man ought to be exercised who has made profi-
ciency ; and that we neglect the chief things . /. . 198

III. What is the matter on which a good man should be em-

ployed, and in what we ought chiefly to practise ourselves 201

IV. Against a person who showed his partisanship in an un-

seemly way in a theatre . ,, .,.,. , , ,-(. , s //. /. 204
V. Against those who on account of sickness go away home . 206
VI. Miscellaneous . . 4r.i,:tiKuin-:'i*i: .*"..;, ; r ' 2O 9
VII. To the administrator of the free cities who was an Epi-
curean v-rMi'j) v^ibE-Jt ony^ -><><*(>, >..;?- ,. ;' 211
VIII. How we must exercise ourselves against appearances . 216
IX. To a certain rhetorician who was going up to Rome on a

suit 217

X. In what manner we ought to bear sickness . . . 220

XI. Certain miscellaneous matters 223

XII. About exercise 224

XIII. What solitude is, and what kind of person a solitary man is 227

XIV. Certain miscellaneous matters 231

XV. That we ought to proceed with circumspection in every-
thing 233

XVI. That we ought with caution to enter into familiar inter-
course with men 236

XVII. Of Providence 238

XVIII. That we ought not to be disturbed by any news . . 239
XIX. What is the condition of a common kind of man and of a

philosopher 240

XX. That we can derive advantage from all external things . . 241
XXI. Against those who readily come to the profession of

sophists 244

XXII. About cynicism 248

XXIII. To those who read and discuss for the sake of ostentation 263

XXIV. That we ought not to be moved by a desire for those

things which are not in our power 269

XXV. To those who fall off (desist) from their purpose . . 285

XXVI. To those who fear want 287


I. About freedom

II. Of familiar intimacy

III. What things we should exchange for other things




IV. To those who are desirous of passing life in tranquility . 323

V. Against the quarrelsome and ferocious . . , . 330

VI. Against those who lament over being pitied . . . 336

VII. On freedom from fear 342

VIII. Against those who hastily rush into the use of the philo-
sophic dress '.^"'-i '' "';''' ( *y ^.^ :< ;ri ' *>: J t f ^49
IX. To a person who had been changed to a character of

shamelessness . . . . 'v'" 1 . ''.-' '.-'; . 355
X. What things we ought to despise and what things we

ought to value . '-\ L ' |: ''. V * ; *J <>'>; ! ' ; ; . - '. '. 358

XI. About purity (cleanliness) . * -,!'-v. M ... ^. ^ ^ ^64

XII. On attention "*'. <J ' J .' : ' M v " '. . . '. . . 369

XIII. Against or to those who readily tell their affairs . . 372



THE FATES Frontispiece

From a painting by Paul Thumann.


From a painting by Jean L6on GeYdme.


From a painting by Jean Le"on G^rome.


From a bust in Rome.







OF all the faculties (except that which I shall soon
mention), you will find not one which is capable of
contemplating itself, and, consequently, not capa-
ble either of approving or disapproving. How far
does the grammatic art possess the contemplating power?
As far as forming a judgment about what is written and
spoken. And how far music? As far as judging about
melody. Does either of them then contemplate itself? By
no means. But when you must write something to your
friend, grammar will tell you what words you should write ;
but whether you should write or not, grammar will not tell
you. And so it is with music as to musical sounds; but
whether you should sing at the present time and play on the
lute, or do neither, music will not tell you. What faculty
then will tell you? That which contemplates both itself
and all other things. And what is this faculty? The
rational faculty ; for this is the only faculty that we have re-
ceived which examines itself, what it is, and what power it
has, and what is the value of this gift, and examines all other
faculties: for what else is there which tells us that golden
i 1


things are beautiful, for they do not say so themselves?
Evidently it is the faculty which is capable of judging of ap-
pearances. 1 What else judges, of music, grammar, and the
other faculties, proves their uses, and points out the occa-
sions for -using them? Nothing else.

As then it was fit to be so, that which is best of all
and supreme over all is the only thing which the gods have
placed in our power, the right use of appearances; but all
other things they have not placed in our power. Was it be-
cause they did not choose ? I indeed think that, if they had
been able, they would have put these other things also in our
power, but they certainly could not. 2 For as we exist on the
earth, and are bound to such a body and to such companions,
how was it possible for us not to be hindered as to these
things by externals ?

But what says Zeus? Epictetus, if it were possible, I
would have made both your little body and your little prop-
erty free and not exposed to hindrance. But now be not
ignorant of this : this body is not yours, but it is clay finely
tempered. And since I was not able to do for you what I
have mentioned, I have given you a small portion of us, 3 this
faculty of pursuing an object and avoiding it, and the faculty
of desire and aversion, and, in a word, the faculty of using
the appearances of things ; and if you will take care of this
faculty and consider it your only possession, you will never
be hindered, never meet with impediments; you will not
lament, you will not blame, you will not flatter any person.

Well, do these seem to you small matters? I hope not.
Be content with them then and pray to the gods. But now
when it is in our power to look after one thing, and
to attach ourselves to it, we prefer to look after many
things, and to be bound to many things, to the body
and to property, and to brother and to friend, and to
child and to slave. Since then we are bound to many
things, we are depressed by them and dragged down. For
this reason, when the weather is not fit for sailing, we sit
down and torment ourselves, and continually look out to see
what wind is blowing. It is north. What is that to us?
When will the west wind blow? When it shall choose, my
good man, or when it shall please JEolus; for God has not


made you the manager of the winds, but ^Eolus. What
then ? We must make the best use that we can of the things
which are in our power, and use the rest according to their
nature. What is their nature then ? As God may please.

Must I then alone have my head cut off? What, would
you have all men lose their heads that you may be con-
soled? Will you not stretch out your neck as Lateranus 4
did at Rome when Nero ordered him to be beheaded ? For
when he had stretched out his neck, and received a feeble
blow, which made him draw it in for a moment, he stretched
it out again. And a little before, when he was visited by
Epaphroditus, 5 Nero's freedman, who asked him about the
cause of offence which he had given, he said, "If I choose to
tell anything, I will tell your master."

What then should a man have in readiness in such circum-
stances ? What else than this ? What is mine, and what is
not mine ; and what is permitted to me, and what is not per-
mitted to me. I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I
must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must
go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going
with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment ? Tell me the
secret which you possess. I will not, for this is in my power.
But I will put you in chains. 6 Man, what are you talking
about? Me in chains? You may fetter my leg, but my
will not even Zeus himself can overpower. I will throw you
into prison. My poor body, you mean. I will cut your
head off. When then have I told you that my head alone
can not be cut off ? These are the things which philosophers
should meditate on, which they should write daily, in which
they should exercise themselves.

Thrasea 7 used to say, I would rather be killed to-day than
be banished to-morrow. What then did Rufus 8 say to him ?
If you choose death as the heavier misfortune, how great
is the folly of your choice ? But if, as the lighter, who has
given you the choice ? Will you not study to be content with
that which has been given to you ?

What then did Agrippinus 9 say? He said, "I am not a
hindrance to myself." When it was reported to him that
his trial was going on in the Senate, he said, "I hope it may
turn out well ; but it is the fifth hour of the day" this was


the time when he was used to exercise himself and then take
the cold bath "let us go and take our exercise." After he
had taken his exercise, one comes and tells him, "You have
been condemned." "To banishment," he replies, "or to
death?" "To banishment." "What about my property?"
"It is not taken from you." "Let us go to Aricia, then," 10
he said, "and dine."

This it is to have studied what a man ought to study;
to have made desire, aversion, free from hindrance, and free
from all that a man would avoid. I must die. If now, I
am ready to die. If, after a short time, I now dine because
it is the dinner-hour ; after this I will then die. How ? Like
a man who gives up what belongs to another.


1 The Stoics gave the name of appearances ( fiavradtai) to all im-
pressions received by the senses, and to all emotions caused by external

* Compare Antoninus, ii. 3. Epictetus does not intend to limit the
power of the gods, but he means that the constitution of things being
what it is, they can not do contradictories. They have so constituted
things that man is hindered by externals. How then could they give
to man a power of not being hindered by externals? Seneca (De
Providentia) says: "But it may be said, many things happen which
cause sadness, fear, and are hard to bear. Because (God says) I could
not save you from them, I have armed your minds against all." This is
the answer to those who imagine that they have disproved the common
assertion of the omnipotence of God, when they ask whether He can
combine inherent contradictions, whether He can cause two and two to
make five. This is indeed a very absurd way of talking.

1 Schweighauser observes that these faculties of pursuit and avoid-
ance, and of desire and aversion, and even the faculty of using appear-
ances, belong to animals as well as to man ; but animals in using ap-
pearances are moved by passion only, and do not understand what they
are doing, while in man these passions are under his control. Salmasius
proposed to change rf^TBpov into v^repov, to remove the difficulty
about these animal passions being called "a small portion of us (the
gods)." Schweighauser, however, though he sees the difficulty, does
not accept the emendation. Perhaps Arrian has here imperfectly repre-
sented what his master said, and perhaps he did not.

4 Plautius Lateranus, consul-elect, was charged with being engaged
in Piso's conspiracy against Nero. He was hurried to execution without
being allowed to see his children ; and though the tribune who executed
him was privy to the plot, Lateranus said nothing. (Tacit. Ann. xv.
49, 60.)

8 Epaphroditus was a freedman of Nero, and once the master of
Epictetus. He was Nero's secretary. One good act is recorded of
him : he helped Nero to kill himself, and for this act he was killed by
Domitian (Suetonius, Domitian, c. 14).


1 This is an imitation of a passage in the Bacchae of Euripides (v.
492, etc.), which is also imitated by Horace (Epp. i. 16).

7 Thrasea Paetus, a Stoic philosopher, who was ordered in Nero's
time to put himself to death (Tacit. Ann. xvi. 21-35). He was the
husband of Arria, whose mother Arria, the wife of Caecina Paetus,
in the time of the Emperor Claudius, heroically showed her husband
the way to die (Plinius, Letters, iii. 16). Martial has immortalised the
elder Arria in a famous epigram (i. 14) :

"When Arria to her Paetus gave the sword
Which her own hand from her chaste bosom drew,
'This wound,' she said, 'believe me, gives no pain,
But that will pain me which thy hand will do.' "

* C. Musonius Rufus, a Tuscan by birth, of equestrian rank, a phi-
losopher and Stoic (Tacit. Hist. iii. 81).

8 Paconius Agrippinus was condemned in Nero's time. The charge
against him was that he inherited his father's hatred of the head of the
Roman state (Tacit. Ann. xvi. 28). The father of Agrippinus had been
put to death under Tiberius (Suetonius, Tib. c. 61).

10 Aricia, about twenty Roman miles from Rome, on the Via Appia.




TO the rational animal only is the irrational intolerable ;
but that which is rational is tolerable. Blows are
not naturally intolerable. How is that? See how
the Lacedaemonians 1 endure whipping when they
have learned that whipping is consistent with reason. To
hang yourself is not intolerable. When then you have the
opinion that it is rational, you go and hang yourself. In
short, if we observe, we shall find that the animal man is
pained by nothing so much as by that which is irrational;
and, on the contrary, attracted to nothing so much as to that
which is rational.

But the rational and the irrational appear in a different
way to different persons, just as the good and the bad, the
profitable and the unprofitable. For this reason, particu-
larly, we need discipline, in order to learn how to adapt the
preconception of the rational and the irrational to the several
things comformably to nature. But in order to determine
the rational and the irrational, we use not only the estimates
of external things, but we consider also what is appropriate
to each person. For to one man it is consistent with reason
to hold a chamber pot for another, and to look to this only,
that if he does not hold it, he will receive stripes, and he will
not receive his food : but if he shall hold the pot, he will not
suffer anything hard or disagreeable. But to another man
not only does the holding of a chamber pot appear intolerable
for himself, but intolerable also for him to allow another to
do this office for him. If then you ask me whether you
should hold the chamber pot or not, I shall say to you that
the receiving of food is worth more than the not receiving of
it, and the being scourged is a greater indignity than not
being scourged; so that if you measure your interests by
these things, go and hold the chamber pot. "But this," you
say, "would not be worthy of me." Well then, it is you


who must introduce this consideration into the inquiry, not
I ; for it is you who know yourself, how much you are worth
to yourself, and at what price you sell yourself; for men sell
themselves at various prices.

For this reason, when Florus was deliberating whether he
should go down to Nero's 2 spectacles, and also perform in
them himself, Agrippinus said to him, "Go down" : and
when Florus asked Agrippinus, "Why do not you go down?"
Agrippinus replied, "Because I do not even deliberate about
the matter." For he who has once brought himself to delib-
erate about such matters, and to calculate the value of exter-
nal things, comes very near to those who have forgotten their
own character. For why do you ask me the question,
whether death is preferable or life? I say life. Pain or
pleasure? I say pleasure. "But if I do not take a part in the
tragic acting, I shall have my head struck off." Go then and
take a part, but I will not. "Why?" Because you con-
sider yourself to be only one thread of those which are in the
tunic. Well then it was fitting for you to take care how you
should be like the rest of men, just as the thread has no de-
sign to be anything superior- to the other threads. But I
wish to be purple, 3 that small part which is bright, and makes
all the rest appear graceful and beautiful. Why then do
you tell me to make myself like the many? and if I do, how
shall I still be purple ?

Priscus Helvidius 4 also saw this, and acted conformably.
For when Vespasian sent and commanded him not to go into
the senate, he replied, "It is in your power not to allow me
to be a member of the senate, but so long as I am, I must go
in." "Well, go in then," says the emperor, "but say noth-
ing." "Do not ask my opinion, and I will be silent." "But
I must ask your opinion." "And I must say what I think
right." "But if you do, I shall put you to death." "When
then did I tell you that I am immortal? You will do your
part, and I will do mine : it is your part to kill ; it is mine to
die, but not in fear : yours to banish me ; mine to depart with-
out sorrow."

What good then did Priscus do, who was only a single
person? And what good does the purple do for the toga?
Why, what else than this, that it is conspicuous in the toga as


purple, and is displayed also as a fine example to all other
things? But in such circumstances another would have
replied to Caesar who forbade him to enter the senate, "I
thank you for sparing me." But such a man Vespasian
would not even have forbidden to enter the senate, for he
knew that he would either sit there like an earthen vessel, or,
if he spoke, he would say what Caesar wished and add even

In this way an athlete also acted who was in danger of
dying unless his private parts were amputated. His brother
came to the athlete, who was a philosopher, and said, "Come,
brother, what are you going to do ? Shall we amputate this
member and return to the gymnasium?" But the athlete
persisted in his resolution and died. When some one asked
Epictetus, how he did this, as an athlete or a philosopher?
"As a man," Epictetus replied, "and a man who had been
proclaimed among the athletes at the Olympic games and
had contended in them, a man who had been familiar with
such a place, and not merely anointed in Baton's 6 school."
Another would have allowed even his head to be cut off, if
he could have lived without it.' Such is that regard to char-
acter which is so strong in those who have been accustomed
to introduce it of themselves and conjoined with other things
into their deliberations.

"Come then, Epictetus, shave 6 yourself." If I am a philo-
sopher, I answer, I will not shave myself. "But I will take
off your head ?" If that will do you any good, take it off.

Some person asked, how then shall every man among us
perceive what is suitable to his character? "How," he re-
plied, "does the bull alone, when the lion has attacked, dis-
cover his own powers and put himself forward in defence
of the whole herd ? It is plain that with the powers the per-
ception of having them is immediately conjoined : and, there-

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