he is now; for what else have you
gained by reading it? What opinion have you formed on
this subject? none; but you will tell us of Helen and
Priam, and the island of Calypso which never was and
never will be. And in this matter indeed it is of no great
importance if you retain the story, but have formed no
opinion of your own. But in matters of morality (Ethic)
this happens to us much more than in these things of
which we are speaking.
Speak to me about good and evil. Listen:
The wind from Ilium to Ciconian shores
Brought me.'Speak to me,' etc. may be supposed to be said to Epictetus, who
has been ridiculing logical subtleties and the grammarians' learning.
When he is told to speak of good and evil, he takes a verse of the
Odyssey, the first which occurs to him, and says, Listen. There is
nothing to listen to, but it is as good for the hearer as any thing else.
Then he utters some philosophical principles, and being asked where
he learned them, he says, from Hellanicus, who was an h
e sun; you can by
going round make the year and seasons, and make the
fruits grow and nourish them, and stir the winds and
make them remit, and warm the bodies of men properly:
go, travel round, and so administer things from the greatest
to the least. You are a calf; when a lion shall appear,
do your proper business (i. e. run away): if you do not,
you will suffer. You are a bull: advance and fight, for
this is your business, and becomes you, and you can do it.
You can lead the army against Ilium; be Agamemnon.
You can fight in single combat against Hector: be
Achilles. But if ThersitesSee the description of Thersites in the Iliad, ii. 212. came forward and claimed
the command, he would either not have obtained it; or
if he did obtain it, he would have disgraced himself
before many witnesses.
Do you also think about the matter carefully: it is not
what it seems to you. (You say) I wear a cloak now
and I shall wear it then: I sleep hard now, and I shall
sleep hard then: I will take in