“In person he should be strong, and robust, and hale, and in spite of his indigence always clean and attractive. Tact and intelligence, and a power of swift repartee, are necessary to him. His conscience must be clear as the sun. He must sleep purely, and wake still more purely. To abuse and insult he must be as insensible as a stone, and he must place all fears and desires beneath his feet. To be a Cynic is to be this: before you attempt it deliberate well, and see whether by the help of God you are capable of achieving it.”
I have given a sketch of the doctrines of this lofty chapter, but fully to enjoy its morality and eloquence the reader should study it entire, and observe its generous impatience, its noble ardour, its vivid interrogations, “in which,” says M. Martha, “one feels as it were a frenzy of virtue and of piety, and in which the plenitude of a great heart tumultuously precipitates a torrent of holy thoughts.”
Epictetus was not a Christian. He has only once alluded to the Christians in his works, and there it is under the opprobrious title of “Galileans,” who practised a kind of insensibility in painful circumstances and an indifference to worldly interests which Epictetus unjustly sets down to “mere habit.” Unhappily it was not granted to these heathen philosophers in any true sense to know what Christianity was. They ignorantly thought that it was an attempt to imitate the results of philosophy, without having passed through the necessary discipline. They viewed it with suspicion, they treated it with injustice. And yet in Christianity, and in Christianity alone, they would have found an ideal which would have surpassed their loftiest conceptions. Nor was it only an impossible ideal; it was an ideal rendered attainable by the impressive sanction of the highest authority, and one which supported men to bear the difficulties of life with fortitude, with peacefulness, and even with an inward joy; it ennobled their faculties without overstraining them; it enabled them to disregard the burden of present trials, not by vainly attempting to deny their bitterness or ignore their weight, but in the high certainty that they are the brief and necessary prelude to “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
THE EDUCATION OF AN EMPEROR.
The life of the noblest of Pagan Emperors may well follow that of the noblest of Pagan slaves. Their glory shines the purer and brighter from the midst of a corrupt and deplorable society. Epictetus showed that a Phrygian slave could live a life of the loftiest exaltation; Aurelius proved that a Roman Emperor could live a life of the deepest humility. The one—a foreigner, feeble, deformed, ignorant, born in squalor, bred in degradation, the despised chattel of a despicable freedman, surrounded by every