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That we ought not to be angry with the errors (faults) of others.

IF what philosophers say is true, that all men have one principle, as in the case of assent the persuasion1 that a thing is so, and in the case of dissent the persuasion that a thing is not so, and in the case of a suspense of judgment the persuasion that a thing is uncertain, so also in the case of a movement towards any thing the persuasion that a thing is for a man's advantage, and it is impossible to think that one thing is advantageous and to desire another, and to judge one thing to be proper and to move towards another, why then are we angry with the many?2 They are thieves and robbers, you may say. What do you mean by thieves and robbers? They are mistaken about good and evil. Ought we then to be angry with them, or to pity them? But show them their error, and you will see how they desist from their errors. If they do not see their errors, they have nothing superior to their present opinion.

Ought not then this robber and this adulterer to be destroyed? By no means say so, but speak rather in this way: This man who has been mistaken and deceived about the most important things, and blinded, not in the faculty of vision which distinguishes white and black, but in the faculty which distinguishes good and bad, should we not destroy him? If you speak thus, you will see how inhuman this is which you say, and that it is just as if you would say, Ought we not to destroy this blind and deaf man? But if the greatest harm is the privation of the greatest things, and the greatest thing in every man is the will or choice such as it ought to be, and a man is deprived of this will, why are you also angry with him? Man, you ought not to be affected contrary to nature by the bad things of another.3 Pity him rather: drop this readiness to be offended and to hate, and these words which the many utter: “these accursed and odious fellows.” How have you been made so wise at once? and how are you so peevish? Why then are we angry? Is it because we value so much the things of which these men rob us? Do not admire your clothes, and then you will not be angry with the thief. Do not admire the beauty of your wife, and you will not be angry with the adulterer. Learn that a thief and an adulterer have no place in the things which are yours, but in those which belong to others and which are not in your power. If you dismiss these things and consider them as nothing, with whom are you still angry? But so long as you value these things, be angry with yourself rather than with the thief and the adulterer. Consider the matter thus: you have fine clothes; your neighbour has not: you have a window; you wish to air the clothes. The thief does not know wherein man's good consists, but he thinks that it consists in having fine clothes, the very thing which you also think. Must he not then come and take them away? When you show a cake to greedy persons, and swallow it all yourself, do you expect them not to snatch it from you? Do not provoke them: do not have a window: do not air your clothes. I also lately had an iron lamp placed by the side of my household gods: hearing a noise at the door, I ran down, and found that the lamp had been carried off. I reflected that he who had taken the lamp had done nothing strange. What then? To-morrow, I said, you will find an earthen lamp: for a man only loses that which he has. I have lost my garment. The reason is that you had a garment. I have pain in my head. Have you any pain in your horns? Why then are you troubled? for we only lose those things, we have only pains about those things which we possess.4

But the tyrant will chain—what? the leg. He will take away—what? the neck. What then will he not chain and not take away? the will. This is why the antients taught the maxim, Know thyself.5 Therefore we ought to exercise ourselves in small6 things, and beginning with them to proceed to the greater. I have pain in the head. Do not say, alas! I have pain in the ear. Do not say, alas I And I do not say, that you are not allowed to groan, but do not groan inwardly; and if your slave is slow in bringing a bandage, do not cry out and torment yourself, and say, “Every body hates me”: for who would not hate such a man? For the future, relying on these opinions, walk about upright, free; not trusting to the size of your body, as an athlete, for a man ought not to be invincible in the way that an ass is.7

Who then is the invincible? It is he whom none of the things disturb which are independent of the will. Then examining one circumstance after another I observe, as in the case of an athlete; he has come off victorious in the first contest: well then, as to the second? and what if there should be great heat? and what, if it should be at Olympia? And the same I say in this case: if you should throw money in his way, he will despise it. Well, suppose you put a young girl in his way, what then? and what, if it is in the dark?8 what if it should be a little reputation, or abuse; and what, if it should be praise; and what if it should be death? He is able to overcome all. What then if it be in heat, and what if it is in the rain,9 and what if he be in a melancholy (mad) mood, and what if he be asleep? He will still conquer. This is my invincible athlete.

1 τὸ παθεῖν ὅτι, etc.: Schweighaeuser has a note on the distinction between τὸ ὀρέγεσθαι and τὸ ὁρμᾶν. Compare Epictetus, iii. 2, 1; iii. 3, 2; iii. 22, 43; and i. 4, 11. Schweig. says that ὀρέγεσθαι refers to the ἀγαθόν and συμφέρον, and ὁρμᾶν to the καθῆκον, and he concludes that there is a defect in the text, which he endeavours to supply.

2 Mrs. Carter says: “The most ignorant persons often practise what they know to be evil: and they, who voluntarily suffer, as many do, their inclinations to blind their judgment, are not justified by following it. (Perhaps she means “them,” “their inclinations.”) The doctrine of Epictetus therefore, here and elsewhere, on this head, contradicts the voice of reason and conscience: nor is it less pernicious than ill-grounded. It destroys all guilt and merit, all punishment and reward, all blame of ourselves or others, all sense of misbehaviour towards our fellow-creatures, or our Creator. No wonder that such philosophers did not teach repentance towards God.” Mrs. Carter has not understood Epictetus; and her censure is misplaced. It is true that “the most ignorant persons often practise what they know to be evil,” as she truly says. But she might have said more. It is also true that persons, who are not ignorant, often do what they know to be evil, and even what they would condemn in another, at least before they had fallen into the same evil themselves; for when they have done what they know to be wrong, they have a fellow- feeling with others who are as bad as themselves. Nor does he say, as Mrs. Carter seems to imply that he does, for her words are ambiguous, that they who voluntarily suffer their inclinations to blind their judgment are justified by following them. He says that men will do as they do, so long as they think as they think. He only traces to their origin the bad acts which bad men do; and he says that we should pity them and try to mend them. Now the best man in the world, if he sees the origin and direct cause of bad acts in men, may pity them for their wickedness, and he will do right. He will pity, and still he will punish severely, if the interests of society require the guilty to be punished: but he will not punish in anger. Epictetus says nothing about legal penalties; and I assume that he would not say that the penalties are always unjust, if I understand his principles. His discourse is to this effect, as the title tells us, that we ought not to be angry with the errors of others: the matter of the discourse is the feeling and disposition which we ought to have towards those who do wrong, “because they are mistaken about good and evil.”

He does not discuss the question of the origin of these men's mistake further than this: men think that a thing or act is advantageous; and it is impossible for them to think that one thing is advantageous and to desire another thing. Their error is in their opinion. Then he tells us to show them their error, and they will desist from their errors. He is not here examining the way of showing them their error; by which I suppose that he means convincing them of their error. He seems to admit that it may not be possible to convince them of their errors; for he says, “if they do not see their errors, they have nothing superior to their present opinion.”

This is the plain and certain meaning of Epictetus which Mrs. Carter in her zeal has not seen.

3 Here the text, 9, 10, 11 is defective. See Schweighaeuser's note.

4 The conclusion explains what precedes. A man can have no pain in his horns, because he has none. A man cannot be vexed about the loss of a thing if he does not possess it. Upton says that Epictetus alludes to the foolish quibble: “If you have not lost a thing, you have it: but you have not lost horns; therefore you have horns” (Seneca, Ep. 45). Epictetus says, “You do not lose a thing when you have it not.” See Schweig.'s note.

5 Compare what is said in Xenophon, Mem. iv. 2, 24, on the expression Know thyself.

6 This ought to be the method in teaching children."

7 That is obstinate, as this animal is generally; and sometimes very obstinate. The meaning then is, as Schweighaeuser says: “a man should be invincible, not with a kind of stupid obstinacy or laziness and slowness in moving himself like an ass, but he should be invincible through reason, reflection, meditation, study, and diligence.”

8 “From the rustics came the old proverb, for when they commend a man's fidelity and goodness they say he is a man with whom you may play the game with the fingers in the dark.” Cicero, De Officiis, iii. 19. See Forcellini, Micare.

9 The MSS. have ὑομένος or οἰόμενος. Schweighaeuser has accepted Upton's emendation of οἰνωμένος, but I do not. The “sleep” refers to dreams. Aristotle, Ethic, i. 13, says: “better are the visions (dreams) of the good (ἐπιεικῶν) than those of the common sort;” and Zeno taught that “a man might from his dreams judge of the progress that he was making, if he observed that in his sleep he was not pleased with anything bad, nor desired or did anything unreasonable or un- just.” Plutarch, περὶ προκοτῆς, ed. Wyttenbach, vol. i. o. 12.

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