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.

Of things some are in our power, and others are not.  In our power are opinion ([Greek:  hupolaepsis]), movement towards a thing ([Greek:  hormae]), desire, aversion ([Greek:  echchlisis]), turning from a thing; and in a word, whatever are our acts.  Not in our power are the body, property, reputation, offices (magisterial power), and in a word, whatever are not our own acts.  And the things in our power are by nature free, not subject to restraint or hindrance; but the things not in our power are weak, slavish, subject to restraint, in the power of others.  Remember then, that if you think the things which are by nature slavish to be free, and the things which are in the power of others to be your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will blame both gods and men; but if you think that only which is your own to be your own, and if you think that what is another’s, as it really is, belongs to another, no man will ever compel you, no man will hinder you, you will never blame any man, you will accuse no man, you will do nothing involuntarily (against your will), no man will harm you, you will have no enemy, for you will not suffer any harm.

If then you desire (aim at) such great things remember that you must not (attempt to) lay hold of them with a small effort; but you must leave alone some things entirely, and postpone others for the present.  But if you wish for these things also (such great things), and power (office) and wealth, perhaps you will not gain even these very things (power and wealth) because you aim also at those former things (such great things); certainly you will fail in those things through which alone happiness and freedom are secured.  Straightway then practise saying to every harsh appearance:  You are an appearance, and in no manner what you appear to be.  Then examine it by the rules which you possess, and by this first and chiefly, whether it relates to the things which are in our power or to things which are not in our power; and if it relates to anything which is not in our power, be ready to say that it does not concern you.


Remember that desire contains in it the profession (hope) of obtaining that which you desire; and the profession (hope) in aversion (turning from a thing) is that you will not fall into that which you attempt to avoid; and he who fails in his desire is unfortunate; and he who falls into that which he would avoid is unhappy.  If then you attempt to avoid only the things contrary to nature which are within your power you will not be involved in any of the things which you would avoid.  But if you attempt to avoid disease, or death, or poverty, you will be unhappy.  Take away then aversion from all things which are not in our power, and transfer it to the things contrary to nature which are in our power.  But destroy desire completely for the present.  For if you desire anything which is not in our power, you must be unfortunate; but of the things in our power, and which it would be good to desire, nothing yet is before you.  But employ only the power of moving towards an object and retiring from it; and these powers indeed only slightly and with exceptions and with remission.

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