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.

Whatever things (rules) are proposed to you (for the conduct of life) abide by them, as if they were laws, as if you would be guilty of impiety if you transgressed any of them.  And whatever any man shall say about you, do not attend to it; for this is no affair of yours.  How long will you then still defer thinking yourself worthy of the best things, and in no matter transgressing the distinctive reason?  Have you accepted the theorems (rules), which it was your duty to agree to, and have you agreed to them? what teacher then do you still expect that you defer to him the correction of yourself?  You are no longer a youth, but already a full-grown man.  If, then, you are negligent and slothful, and are continually making procrastination after procrastination, and proposal (intention) after proposal, and fixing day after day, after which you will attend to yourself, you will not know that you are not making improvement, but you will continue ignorant (uninstructed) both while you live and till you die.  Immediately then think it right to live as a full-grown man, and one who is making proficiency, and let everything which appears to you to be the best be to you a law which must not be transgressed.  And if anything laborious or pleasant or glorious or inglorious be presented to you, remember that now is the contest, now are the Olympic games, and they cannot be deferred; and that it depends on one defeat and one giving way that progress is either lost or maintained.  Socrates in this way became perfect, in all things improving himself, attending to nothing except to reason.  But you, though you are not yet a Socrates, ought to live as one who wishes to be a Socrates.


The first and most necessary place (part, [Greek:  topos]) in philosophy is the use of theorems (precepts, [Greek:  theoraemata]), for instance, that we must not lie; the second part is that of demonstrations, for instance, How is it proved that we ought not to lie?  The third is that which is confirmatory of these two, and explanatory, for example, How is this a demonstration?  For what is demonstration, what is consequence, what is contradiction, what is truth, what is falsehood?  The third part (topic) is necessary on account of the second, and the second on account of the first; but the most necessary and that on which we ought to rest is the first.  But we do the contrary.  For we spend our time on the third topic, and all our earnestness is about it; but we entirely neglect the first.  Therefore we lie; but the demonstration that we ought not to lie we have ready to hand.


In every thing (circumstance) we should hold these maxims ready to hand: 

  Lead me, O Zeus, and thou O Destiny,
  The way that I am bid by you to go: 
  To follow I am ready.  If I choose not,
  I make myself a wretch, and still must follow.

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