Hoyt Epicurus 178-188

Hoyt Epicurus 178-188 - EPICURUS Epicurus (341—271 ac.)...

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Unformatted text preview: EPICURUS Epicurus (341—271 ac.) was an Athenian philosopher who developed an ethical theory according to which happiness can be achieved by ridding ourselves of unnecessary desires. achieving self-sufficiency, and not fearing death. Letter to Menoeceus Let no one when young delay to study philosophy, nor when he is old grow weary of his study. For no one can come too early or too late to secure the health of his soul. And the man who says that the age for philosophy has either not yet come or has gone by is like the man who says that the age for happi- ness is not yet come to him, or has passed away. Wherefore both when young and old a man must study philosophy, that as he grows old he may be young in blessings through the grateful recollection of what has been, and that in youth he may be old as well, since he will know no fear of what is to come. We must then meditate on the things that make our happiness, seeing that when that is with us we have all, but when it is absent we do all to win it. The things which I used unceasingly to commend to you, these do and practice, considering them to be the first principles of the good life. First of all believe that god is a being immortal and blessed, even as the common idea of a god is engraved on men’s minds, and do not assign to him anything alien to his immor- tality or ill-suited to his blessedness: but believe about him everything that can uphold his blessedness and immortality. For gods there are, since the knowl- edge of them is by clear vision. But they are not such as the many believe them to be: for indeed they do not consistently represent them as they believe them to be. And the impious man is not he who denies the gods of the many, but he who attaches to the gods the beliefs of the many. For the statements of the many about the gods are not conceptions derived from sen- sation, but false suppositions, according to which the greatest misfortunes befall the wicked and the great— est blessings (the good) by the gift of the gods. For men being accustomed always to their own virtues welcome those like themselves, but regard all that is not of their nature as alien. Become accustomed to the belief that death is nothing to us. For all good and evil consists in sen- sation, but death is deprivation of sensation. And therefore a right understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, not be— cause it adds to it an infinite span of time, but be- cause it takes away the craving for immortality. For there is nothing terrible in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living. So that the man speaks but idly who says that he fears death not because it will be painful From Epicurus: The Extant Remains, translated by Cyril Bailey (1926). Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. 178 LETTER TO MENOECEUS when it comes, but because it is painful in anticipa- tion. For that which gives no trouble when it comes, is but an empty pain in anticipation. So death, the most terrifying of ills, is nothing to us, since so long as we exist, death is not with us; but when death comes, then we do not exist. It does not then concern either the living or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more. But the many at one moment shun death as the greatest of evils, at another (yearn for it) as a respite from the (evils) in life. (But the wise man neither seeks to escape life) nor fears the cessation of life, for neither does life offend him nor does the absence of life seem to be any evil. And just as with food he does not seek simply the larger share and nothing else, but rather the most pleasant, so he seeks to enjoy not the longest period of time, but the most pleasant. And he who counsels the young man to live well, but the old man to make a good end, is foolish, not merely because of the desirability of life, but also because it is the same training which teaches to live well and to die well. Yet much worse still is the man who says it is good not to be born, but ‘once born make haste to pass the gates of Death ’. For if he says this from conviction why does he not pass away out of life? For it is open to him to do so, if he had firmly made up his mind to this. But if he speaks in jest, his words are idle among men who cannot receive them. We must then bear in mind that the future is nei- ther ours, nor yet wholly not ours, so that we may not altogether expect it as sure to come, nor abandon hope of it, as if it will certainly not come. We must consider that of desires some are natu- ral, others vain, and of the natural some are neces- sary and others merely natural; and of the necessary some are necessary for happiness, others for the repose of the body, and others for very life. The right understanding of these facts enables us to refer all choice and avoidance to the health of the body and (the soul’s) freedom from disturbance, since this is the aim of the life of blessedness. For it is to obtain this end that we always act, namely, to avoid pain 179 and fear. And when this is once secured for us, all the tempest of the soul is dispersed, since the living creature has not to wander as though in search of something that is missing, and to look for some other thing by which he can fulfil the good of the soul and the good of the body. For it is then that we have need of pleasure, when we feel pain owing to the absence of pleasure; (but when we do not feel pain), we no longer need pleasure. And for this cause we call pleasure the beginning and end of the blessed life. For we recognize pleasure as the first good innate in us, and from pleasure we begin every act of choice and avoidance, and to pleasure we return again, using the feeling as the standard by which we judge every good. And since pleasure is the first good and natural to us, for this very reason we do not choose every pleasure, but sometimes we pass over many plea- sures, when greater discomfort accrues to us as the result of them: and similarly we think many pains better than pleasures, since a greater pleasure comes to us when we have endured pains for a long time. Every pleasure then because of its natural kinship to us is good, yet not every pleasure is to be chosen: even as every pain also is an evil, yet not all are always of a nature to be avoided. Yet by a scale of comparison and by the consideration of advantages and disadvantages we must form our judgement on all these matters. For the good on certain occasions we treat as bad, and conversely the bad as good. And again independence of desire we think a great good—not that we may at all times enjoy but a few things, but that, if we do not possess many, we may enjoy the few in the genuine persuasion that those have the sweetest pleasure in luxury who least need it, and that all that is natural is easy to be obtained, but that which is superfluous is hard. And so plain savours bring us a pleasure equal to a luxu- rious diet, when all the pain due to want is removed; and bread and water produce the highest pleasure, when one who needs them puts them to his lips. To grow accustomed therefore to simple and not luxuri- ous diet gives us health to the full, and makes a man alert for the needful employments of life, and when after long intervals we approach luxuries disposes us 180 better towards them, and fits us to be fearless of for- tune. When, therefore, we maintain that pleasure is the end, we do not mean the pleasures of profligates and those that consist in sensuality, as is supposed by some who are either ignorant or disagree with us or do not understand, but freedom from pain in the body and from trouble in the mind. For it is not continuous drinkings and revellings, nor the satisfaction of lusts, nor the enjoyment of fish and other luxuries of the wealthy table, which produce a pleasant life, but sober reasoning, searching out the motives for all choice and avoidance, and banishing mere opinions, to which are due the greatest disturbance of the spirit. Of all this the beginning and the greatest good is prudence. Wherefore prudence is a more precious thing even than philosophy: for from prudence are sprung all the other virtues, and it teaches us that it is not possible to live pleasantly without living pru- dently and honourany and justly, (nor, again, to live a life of prudence, honour, and justice) without liv- ing pleasantly. For the virtues are by nature bound up with the pleasant life, and the pleasant life is inseparable from them. For indeed who, think you, is a better man than he who holds reverent opinions concerning the gods, and is at all times free from fear of death, and has reasoned out the end ordained by nature? He understands that the limit of good things is easy to fulfil and easy to attain, whereas the course of ills is either short in time or slight in pain: he EPICURUS laughs at (destiny), whom some have introduced as the mistress of all things. (He thinks that with us lies the chief power in determining events, some of which happen by necessity) and some by chance, and some are within our control; for while necessity cannot be called to account, he sees that chance is inconstant, but that which is in our control is subject to no master, and to it are naturally attached praise and blame. For, indeed, it were better to follow the myths about the gods than to become a slave to the destiny of the natural philosophers: for the former suggests a hope of placating the gods by worship, whereas the latter involves a necessity which knows no placation. As to chance, he does not regard it as a god as most men do (for in a god’s acts there is no disorder), nor as an uncertain cause (of all things): for he does not believe that good-and evil are given by chance to man for the framing of a blessed life, but that opportunities for great good and great evil are afforded by it. He therefore thinks it better to be unfortunate in reasonable action than to prosper in unreason. For it is better in a man’s actions that what is well chosen (should fail, rather than that what is ill chosen) should be successful owing to chance. Meditate therefore on these things and things akin to them night and day by yourself, and with a com- panion like to yourself, and never shall you be dis- turbed waking or asleep, but you shall live like a god among men. For a man who lives among immortal blessings is not like to a mortal being. Leading Doctrines I. The blessed and immortal nature knows no trouble itself nor causes trouble to any other, so that it is never constrained by anger or favour. For all such things exist only in the weak. 11. Death is nothing to us: for that which is dis- solved is without sensation; and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us. 111. The limit of quantity in pleasures is the removal of all that is painful. Wherever pleasure is present, as long as it is there, there is neither pain of body nor of mind, nor of both at once. IV. Pain does not last continuously in the flesh, but the acutest pain is there for a very short time, and even that which just exceeds the pleasure in the flesh From Epicurus: The Extant Remains, translated by Cyril Bailey (1926). Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. LEADING DOCTRINES does not continue for many days at once. But chronic illnesses permit a predominance of pleasure over pain in the flesh. V. It is not possible to live pleasantly without liv- ing prudently and honourably and justly, [nor again to live a life of prudence, honour, and justice] with- out living pleasantly. And the man who does not possess the pleasant life, is not living prudently and honourably and justly, [and the man who does not possess the virtuous life], cannot possibly live pleasantly. VI. To secure protection from men anything is a natural good, by which you may be able to attain this end. VII. Some men wished to become famous and conspicuous, thinking that they would thus win for themselves safety from other men. Wherefore if the life of such men is safe, they have obtained the good which nature craves; but if it is not safe, they do not possess that for which they strove at first by the instinct of nature. VIII. No pleasure is a bad thing in itself: but the means which produce some pleasures bring with them disturbances many times greater than the pleasures. IX. If every pleasure could be intensified so that it lasted and influenced the whole organism or the most essential parts of our nature, pleasures would never differ from one another. X. If the things that produce the pleasures of prof- ligates could dispel the fears of the mind about the phenomena of the sky and death and its pains, and also teach the limits of desires (and of pains), we should never have cause to blame them: for they would be filling themselves full with pleasures from every source and never have pain of body or mind, which is the evil of life. XI. If we were not troubled by our suspicions of the phenomena of the sky and about death, fearing that it concerns us, and also by our failure to grasp the limits of pains and desires, we should have no need of natural science. XII. A man cannot dispel his fear about the most important matters if he does not know what is the 181 nature of the universe but suspects the truth of some mythical story. So that without natural science it is not possible to attain our pleasures unalloyed. XIII. There is no profit in securing protection in relation to men, if things above and things beneath the earth and indeed all in the boundless universe remain matters of suspicion. XIV. The most unalloyed source of protection from men, which is secured to some extent by a cer- tain force of expulsion, is in fact the immunity which results from a quiet life and the retirement from the world. XV. The wealth demanded by nature is both lim- ited and easily procured; that demanded by idle imaginings stretches on to infinity. XVI. In but few things chance hinders a wise man, but the greatest and most important matters reason has ordained and throughout the whole period of life does and will ordain. XVII. The just man is most free from trouble, the unjust most full of trouble. XVIII. The pleasure in the flesh is not increased, when once the pain due to want is removed, but is only varied: and the limit as regards pleasure in the mind is begotten by the reasoned understanding of these very pleasures and of the emotions akin to them, which used to cause the greatest fear to the mind. XIX. Infinite time contains no greater pleasure than limited time, if one measures by reason the lim- its of pleasure. XX. The flesh perceives the limits of pleasure as unlimited and unlimited time is required to supply it. But the mind, having attained a reasoned under- standing of the ultimate good of the flesh and its lim- its and having dissipated the fears concerning the time to come, supplies us with the complete life, and we have no further need of infinite time: but neither does the mind shun pleasure, nor, when circum- stances begin to bring about the departure from life, does it approach its end as though it fell short in any way of the best life. XXI. He who has learned the limits of life knows that that which removes the pain due to want and 182 makes the whole of life complete is easy to obtain; so that there is no need of actions which involve competition. XXII. We must consider both the real purpose and all the evidence of direct perception, to which we always refer the conclusions of opinion; other- wise, all will be full of doubt and confusion. XXIII. If you fight against all sensations, you will have no standard by which to judge even those of them which you say are false. XXIV. If you reject any single sensation and fail to distinguish between the conclusion of opinion as to the appearance awaiting confirmation and that which is actually given by the sensation or feeling, or each intuitive apprehension of the mind, you will confound all other sensations as well with the same groundless opinion, so that you will reject every standard of judgement. And if among the mental images created by your opinion you affirrn both that which awaits confirmation and that which does not, you will not escape error, since you will have pre- served the whole cause of doubt in every judgement between what is right and what is wrong. XXV. If on each occasion instead of referring your actions to the end of nature, you turn to some other nearer standard when you are making a choice or an avoidance, your actions will not be consistent with your principles. XXVI. Of desires, all that do not lead to a sense of pain, if they are not satisfied, are not necessary, but involve a craving which is easily dispelled, when the object is hard to procure or they seem likely to produce harm. XXVII. Of all the things which wisdom acquires to produce the blessedness of the complete life, far the greatest is the possession of friendship. XXVIII. The same conviction which has given us confidence that there is nothing terrible that lasts for ever or even for long, has also seen the protection of friendship most fully completed in the limited evils of this life. XXIX. Among desires some are natural (and nec- essary, some natural) but not necessary, and others EPICURUS neither natural nor necessary, but due to idle imagi- nation. XXX. Wherever in the case of desires which are physical, but do not lead to a sense of pain, if they are not fulfilled, the effort is intense, such pleasures are due to idle imagination, and it is not owing to their own nature that they fail to be dispelled, but owing to the empty imaginings of the man. XXXI. The justice which arises from nature is a pledge of mutual advantage to restrain men from harming one another and save them from being harmed. XXXII. For all living things which have not been able to make compacts not to harm one another or be harmed, nothing ever is either just or unjust; and likewise too for all tribes of men which have been unable or unwilling to make compacts not to harm or be harmed. XXXIII. Justice never is anything in itself, but in the dealings of men with one another in any place whatever and at any time it is a kind of compact not to harm or be harmed. XXXIV. Injustice is not an evil in itself, but only in consequence of the fear which attaches to the apprehension of being unable to escape those ap- pointed to punish such actions. XXXV. It is not possible for one who acts in secret contravention of the terms of the compact not to harm or be harmed, to be confident that he will escape detection, even if at present he escapes a thousand times. For up to the time of death it cannot be certain that he will indeed escape. XXXVI. In its general aspect justice is the same for all, for it is a kind of mutual advantage in the dealings of men with one another: but with reference to the individual peculiarities of a country or any other circumstances the same thing does not turn out to be just for all. XXXVII. Among actions which are sanctioned as just by law, that which is proved on examination to be of advantage in the requirements of men’s dealings with one another, has the guarantee of justice, whether it is the same for all or not. But if a man ENCHIRIDION makes a law and it does not turn out to lead to advan- tage in men’s dealings with each other, then it no longer has the essential nature of justice. And even if the advantage in the matter of justice shifts from one side to the other, but for a while accords with the gen- eral concept, it is none the less just for that period in the eyes of those who do not confound themselves with empty sounds but look to the actual facts. XXXVIII. Where, provided the circumstances have not been altered, actions which were considered just, have been shown not to accord with the general concept in actual practice, then they are not just. But where, when circumstances have changed, the same actions which were sanctioned as just no longer lead to advantage, there they were just at the time when they were of advantage for the dealings of fellow— 183 citizens with one another; but subsequently they are no longer just, when no longer of advantage. XXXIX. The man who has best ordered the ele- ment of disquiet arising from external circumstances has made those things that he could akin to himself and the rest at least not alien: but with all to which he could not do even this, he has refrained from mixing, and has expelled from his life all which it was of advantage to treat thus. XL. As many as possess the power to procure complete immunity from their. neighbours, these also live most pleasantly with one another, since they have the most certain pledge of security, and after they have enjoyed the fullest intimacy, they do not lament the previous departure of a dead friend, as though he were to be pitied. EPICTETUS Epictetus (c. 130—c. 50 ac.) was a Roman slave who defended the moral theory of Stoicism, according to which the good life can be achieved by adjusting one's desires to the way the world is rather than trying to adjust the world to satisfy one's desires. Enchiridion 1 Of all existing things some are in our power, and oth— ers are not in our power. In our power are thought, impulse, will to get and will to avoid, and, in a word, everything which is our own doing. Things not in our power include the body, property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything which is not our own doing. Things in our power are by nature free, unhindered, untrammelled; things not in our power are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, dependent on others. Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another’s is your own, you will be hampered, you From Epictetus: The Discourses and Manual, translated by P. E. Matheson (1917). Reprinted by permission of Oxford Univer- sity Press. 184 will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men; but if you think that only your own belongs to you, and that what is another’s is indeed another’ 8, no one will ever put compulsion or hindrance on you, you will blame none, you will accuse none, you will do nothing against your will, no one will harm you, you will have no enemy, for no harm can touch you. Aiming then at these high matters, you must remember that to attain them requires more than ordinary effort; you will have to give up some things entirely, and put off others for the moment. And if you would have these also—office and wealth—it may be that you will fail to get them, just because your desire is set on the former, and you will cer- tainly fail to attain those things which alone bring freedom and happiness. Make it your study then to confront every harsh impression with the words, ‘You are but an impres- sion, and not at all what you seem to be’. Then test it by those rules that you possess; and first by this—the chief test of all—‘Is it concerned with what is in our power or with what is not in our power?’ And if it is concerned with what is not in our power, be ready with the answer that it is nothing to you. 2 Remember that the will to get promises attainment of what you will, and the will to avoid promises escape from what you avoid; and he who fails to get what he wills is unfortunate, and he who does not escape what he wills to avoid is miserable. If then you try to avoid only what is unnatural in the region within your control, you will escape from all that you avoid; but if you try to avoid disease or death or poverty you will be miserable. Therefore let your will to avoid have no concern with what is not in man’s power; direct it only to things in man’s power that are contrary to nature. But for the moment you must utterly remove the will to get; for if you will to get something not in man’s power you are bound to be unfortunate; while none of EPICTETUS the things in man’s power that you could honourably will to get is yet within your reach. Impulse to act and not to act, these are your concern; yet exercise them gently and without strain, and provisionally. 3 When anything, from the meanest thing upwards, is attractive or serviceable or an object of affection, remember always to say to yourself, ‘What is its nature?’ If you are fond of a jug, say you are fond of a jug; then you will not be disturbed if it be broken. If you kiss your child or your wife, say to yourself that you are kissing a human being, for then if death strikes it you will not be disturbed. 4 When you are about to take something in hand, remind yourself what manner of thing it is. If you are going to bathe put before your mind what happens in the bath—water pouring over some, others being jostled, some reviling, others stealing; and you will set to work more securely if you say to yourself at once: ‘I want to bathe, and I want to keep my will in harmony with nature,’ and so in each thing you do; for in this way, if anything turns up to hinder you in your bathing, you will be ready to say, ‘I did not want only to bathe, but to keep my will in harmony with nature, and I shall not so keep it, if I lose my temper at what happens’. 5 What disturbs men’s mind is not events but their judgements on events. For instance, death is nothing dreadful, or else Socrates would have thought so. No, the only dreadful thing about it is men’s judge- ment that it is dreadful. And so when we are hin- dered, or disturbed, or distressed, let us never lay the blame on others, but on ourselves, that is, on our own ENCHIRIDION judgements. To accuse others for one’s own misfor- tunes is a sign of want of education; to accuse one- self shows that one’s education has begun; to accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s educa- tion is complete. 6 Be not elated at an excellence which is not your own. If the horse in his pride were to say, ‘I am hand- some,’ we could bear with it. But when you say with pride, ‘I have a handsome horse’, know that the good horse is the ground of your pride. You ask then what you can call your own. The answer is—the way you deal with your impressions. Therefore when you deal with your impressions in accord with nature, then you may be proud indeed, for your pride will be in a good which is your own. 7 When you are on a voyage, and your ship is at anchorage, and you disembark to get fresh water, you may pick up a small shellfish or a truffle by the way, but you must keep your attention fixed on the ship, and keep looking towards it constantly, to see if the Helmsman calls you; and if he does, you have to leave everything, or be bundled on board with your legs tied like a sheep. So it is in life. If you have a dear wife or child given you, they are like the shell— fish or the truffle, they are very well in their way. Only, if the Helmsman call, run back to your ship, leave all else, and do not look behind you. And if you are old, never go far from the ship, so that when you are called you may not fail to appear. 8 Ask not that events should happen as you will, but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you shall have peace. 185 9 Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to the will, unless the will consent. Lameness is a hin- drance to the leg, but not to the will. Say this to your— self at each event that happens, for you shall find that though it hinders something else it will not hinder you. 10 When anything happens to you, always remember to turn to yourself and ask what faculty you have to deal with it. If you see a beautiful boy or a beautiful woman, you will find continence the faculty to exer- cise there; if trouble is laid on you, you will find endurance; if ribaldry, you will find patience. And if you train yourself in this habit your impressions will not carry you away. 11 Never say of anything, ‘I lost it’, but say, ‘I gave it back’. Has your child died? It was given back. Has your wife died? She was given back. Has your estate been taken from you? Was not this also given back? But you say, ‘He who took it from me is wicked’. What does it matter to you through whom the Giver asked it back? As long as He gives it you, take care of it, but not as your own; treat it as passers-by treat an inn. 12 If you wish to make progress, abandon reasonings of this sort: ‘IfI neglect my affairs I shall have nothing to live on’; ‘If I do not punish my son, he will be wicked.’ For it is better to die of hunger, so that you be free from pain and free from fear, than to live in plenty and be troubled in mind. It is better for your son to be wicked than for you to be miserable. 186 Wherefore begin with little things. Is your drop of oil spilt? Is your sup of wine stolen? Say to yourself, ‘This is the price paid for freedom from passion, this is the price of a quiet mind.’ Nothing can be bad without a price. When you call your slave-boy, reflect that he may not be able to hear you, and if he hears you, he may not be able to do anything you want. But he is not so well. off that it rests with him to give you peace of mind. 13 If you wish to make progress, you must be content in external matters to seem a fool and a simpleton; do not wish men to think you know anything, and if any should think you to be somebody, distrust yourself. For know that it is not easy to keep your will in accord with nature and at the same time keep out- ward things; if you attend to one you must needs neglect the other. 14 It is silly to want your children and your wife and your friends to live for ever, for that means that you want what is not in your control to be in your control, and what is not your own to be yours. In the same way if you want your servant to make no mistakes, you are a fool, for you want vice not to be vice but something different. But if you want not to be disap- pointed in your will to get, you can attain to that. Exercise yourself then in what lies in your power. Each man’s master is the man who has authority over what he wishes or does not wish, to secure the one or to take away the other. Let him then who wishes to be free not wish for anything or avoid anything that depends on others; or else he is bound to be a slave. 15 Remember that you must behave in life as you would at a banquet. A dish is handed round and comes to EPICTETUS you; put out your hand and take it politely. It passes you; do not stop it. It has not reached you; do not be impatient to get it, but wait till your turn comes. Bear yourself thus towards children, wife, office, wealth, and one day you will be worthy to banquet with the gods. But if when they are set before you, you do not take them but despise them, then you shall not only share the gods’ banquet, but shall share their rule. For by so doing Diogenes and Heraclitus and men like them were called divine and deserved the name, 16 When you see a man shedding tears in sorrow for a child abroad or dead, or for loss of property, beware that you are not carried away by the impression that it is outward ills that make him miserable. Keep this thought by you: ‘What distresses him is not the event, for that does not distress another, but his judgement on the event.’ Therefore do not hesitate to sympathize with him so far as words go, and if it so chance, even to groan with him; but take heed that you do not also groan in your inner being. 17 Remember that you are an actor in a play, and the Playwright chooses the manner of it: if he wants it short, it is short; if long, it is long. If he wants you to act a poor man you must act the part with all your powers; and so if your part be a cripple or a magis- trate or a plain man. For your business is to act the character that is given you and act it well; the choice of the cast is Another’s. 18 When a raven croaks with evil omen, let not the impression carry you away, but straightway distin- guish in your own mind and say, ‘These portents mean nothing to me; but only to my bit of a body or my bit of property or name, or my children or my ENCHIRIDION wife. But for me all omens are favourable if I will, for, whatever the issue may be, it is in my power to get benefit therefrom.’ 19 You can be invincible, if you never enter on a con- test where victory is not in your power. Beware then that when you see a man raised to honour or great power or high repute you do not let your impression carry you away. For if the reality of good lies in what is in our power, there is no room for envy or jeal- ousy. And you will not wish to be praetor, or prefect or consul, but to be free; and there is but one way to freedom—to despise what is not in our power. 20 Remember that foul words or blows in themselves are no outrage, but your judgement that they are so. So when anyone makes you angry, know that it is your own thought that has angered you. Wherefore make it your first endeavour not to let your impres- sions carry you away. For if once you gain time and delay, you will find it easier to control yourself. 21 Keep before your eyes from day to day death and exile and all things that seem terrible, but death most of all, and then you will never set your thoughts. on what is low and will never desire anything beyond measure. 22 If you set your desire on philosophy you must at once prepare to meet with ridicule and the jeers of many who will say, ‘Here he is again, turned philosopher. Where has he got these proud looks?’ Nay, put on no proud looks, but hold fast to what seems best to you, 187 in confidence that God has set you at this post. And remember that if you abide where you are, those who first laugh at you will one day admire you, and that if you give way to them, you will get doubly laughed at. 23 If it ever happen to you to be diverted to things out- side, so that you desire to please another, know that you have lost your life’s plan. Be content then always to be a philosopher; if you wish to be re- garded as one too, show yourself that you are one and you will be able to achieve it. 24 Let not reflections such as these afflict you: ‘1 shall live without honour, and never be of any account’; for if lack of honour is an evil, no one but yourself can involve you in evil any more than in shame. Is it your business to get office or to be invited to an entertainment? Certainly not. Where then is the dishonour you talk of? How can you be ‘of no account anywhere’, when you ought to count for something in those matters only which are in your power, where you may achieve the highest worth? ‘But my friends,’ you say, ‘will lack assistance.’ What do you mean by ‘lack assistance’? They will not have cash from you and you will not make them Roman citizens. Who told you that to do these things is in our power, and not dependent upon oth- ers? Who can give to another what is not his to give? ‘Get them then,’ says he, ‘that we may have them.’ If I can get them and keep my self-respect, hon- our, magnanimity, show the way and I will get them. But if you call on me to lose the good things that are mine, in order that you may win things that are not good, look how unfair and thoughtless you are. And which do you really prefer? Money, or a faithful, modest friend? Therefore help me rather to keep 188 these qualities, and do not expect from me actions which will make me lose them. ‘But my country,’ says he, ‘will lack assistance, so far as lies in me.’ Once more I ask, What assistance do you mean? It will not owe colonnades or baths to you. What of that? It does not owe shoes to the blacksmith or arms to the shoemaker; it is sufficient if each man fulfils his own function. Would you do it no good if you secured to it another faithful and modest citizen? ‘Yes.’ Well, then, you would not be useless to it. ‘What place then shall I have in the city?’ Whatever place you can hold while you keep your character for honour and self-respect. But if you are going to lose these qualities in trying to ben- efit your city, what benefit, I ask, would you have done her when you attain to the perfection of being lost to shame and honour? 25 Has some one had precedence of you at an entertain- ment or a levée or been called in before you to give advice? If these things are good you ought to be glad that he got them; if they are evil, do not be angry that you did not get them yourself. Remember that if you want to get what is not in your power, you cannot earn the same reward as others unless you act as they do. How is it possible for one who does not haunt the great man’s door to have equal shares with one who does, or one who does not go in his train equality with one who does; or one who does not praise him with one who does? You will be unjust then and insatiable if you wish to get these privileges for nothing, with— out paying their price. What is the price of a lettuce? An obol perhaps. If then a man pays his obol and gets his lettuces, and you do not pay and do not get them, do not think you are defrauded. For as he has the let- tuces so you have the obol you did not give. The same principle holds good too in conduct. You were not invited to some one’s entertainment? Because you did not give the host the price for which he sells his dinner. He sells it for compliments, he sells it for attentions. Pay him the price then, if it is to your EPICTETUS profit. But if you wish to get the one and yet not give up the other, nothing can satisfy you in your folly. What! you say, you have nothing instead of the dinner? Nay, you have this, you have not praised the man you did not want to praise, you have not had to bear with the insults of his doorstep. 26 It is in our power to discover the will of Nature from those matters on which we have no difference of opinion. For instance, when another man’s slave has broken the wine—cup we are very ready to say at once, ‘Such things must happen.’ Know then that when your own cup is broken, you ought to behave in the same way as when your neighbour’s was bro- ken. Apply the same principle to higher matters. Is another’s child or wife dead? Not one of us but would say, ‘Such is the lot of man’; but when one’s own dies, straightway one cries, ‘Alas! miserable am I’. But we ought to remember what our feelings are when we hear it of another. 27 As a mark is not set up for men to miss it, so there is nothing intrinsically evil in the world. 28 If any one trusted your body to the first man he met, you would be indignant, but yet you trust your mind to the chance comer, and allow it to be disturbed and confounded if he revile you; are you not ashamed to do so? 29 In everything you do consider what comes first and what follows, and so approach it. Otherwise you will come to it with a good heart at first because you have ...
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This note was uploaded on 10/13/2010 for the course PHIL 152 taught by Professor Hoyt during the Fall '08 term at Loyola New Orleans.

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Hoyt Epicurus 178-188 - EPICURUS Epicurus (341—271 ac.)...

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