A Selection from the Discourses of Epictetus with the Encheiridion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about A Selection from the Discourses of Epictetus with the Encheiridion.


If you would have your children and your wife and your friends to live for ever, you are silly; for you would have the things which are not in your power to be in your power, and the things which belong to others to be yours.  So if you would have your slave to be free from faults, you are a fool; for you would have badness not to be badness, but something else.  But if you wish not to fail in your desires, you are able to do that.  Practise then this which you are able to do.  He is the master of every man who has the power over the things which another person wishes or does not wish, the power to confer them on him or to take them away.  Whoever then wishes to be free let him neither wish for anything nor avoid anything which depends on others:  if he does not observe this rule, he must be a slave.


Remember that in life you ought to behave as at a banquet.  Suppose that something is carried round and is opposite to you.  Stretch out your hand and take a portion with decency.  Suppose that it passes by you.  Do not detain it.  Suppose that it is not yet come to you.  Do not send your desire forward to it, but wait till it is opposite to you.  Do so with respect to children, so with respect to a wife, so with respect to magisterial offices, so with respect to wealth, and you will be some time a worthy partner of the banquets of the gods.  But if you take none of the things which are set before you, and even despise them, then you will be not only a fellow banqueter with the gods, but also a partner with them in power.  For by acting thus Diogenes and Heracleitus and those like them were deservedly divine, and were so called.


When you see a person weeping in sorrow either when a child goes abroad or when he is dead, or when the man has lost his property, take care that the appearance do not hurry you away with it, as if he were suffering in external things.  But straightway make a distinction in your own mind, and be in readiness to say, it is not that which has happened that afflicts this man, for it does not afflict another, but it is the opinion about this thing which afflicts the man.  So far as words then do not be unwilling to show him sympathy, and even if it happens so, to lament with him.  But take care that you do not lament internally also.


Remember that thou art an actor in a play, of such a kind as the teacher (author) may choose; if short, of a short one; if long, of a long one:  if he wishes you to act the part of a poor man, see that you act the part naturally; if the part of a lame man, of a magistrate, of a private person, (do the same).  For this is your duty, to act well the part that is given to you; but to select the part, belongs to another.

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A Selection from the Discourses of Epictetus with the Encheiridion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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