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Arrian's Discourses of Epictetus
That when we cannot fulfil that which the character of a man promises, we assume the character of a philosopher.
What is the matter on which a good man should be employed, and in what we ought chiefly to practise ourselves.
1 The word is οὐσία. The corresponding Latin word which Cicero introduced is “essentia” (Seneca, Epist. 58). The English word “essence” has obtained a somewhat different sense. The proper translation of οὐσία is “being” or “nature.”
2 This is the maxim of Horace, Epp. i. 6; and Macleane's note,—
“Nil admirari prope res est una, Numici,
Solaque quae possit facere et servare beatum.
” on which Upton remarks that this maxim is explained very philosophically and learnedly by Lord Shaftesbury (the author of the Characteristics), vol. iii. p. 202. Compare M. Antoninus, xii. 1, Seneca, De Vita Beata, c. 3, writes, “Aliarum rerum quae vitam instruunt diligens, sine admiratione cujusquam.” Antoninus (i. 15) expresses the “sine admiratione” by τὸ ἀθαύμαστον.
3 This is explained by what follows. Opinion does not really conquer itself; but one opinion can conquer another, and nothing else can.
5 See i. 18, 15, p. 58.
7 One of those who cry out “Philosopher,” &
8 See i. 9. 20.
9 See i. 6. 13.
10 Socrates was condemned by the Athenians to die, and he was content to die, and thought that it was a good thing; and this was the reason why he made such a defence as he did, which brought on him condemnation; and he preferred condemnation to escaping it by entreating the dicasts (judges), and lamenting, and saying and doing things unworthy of himself, as others did.—Plato, Apology, cc. 29–33. compare Epict. i. 9, 16.
11 See i. 25, 8.
13 See Schweighaeuser's note. This appears to be the remark of Epictetus. If it is so, what follows is not clear. Schweighaeuser explains it, “But most of you act otherwise.”
14 The Roman emperors kept gladiators for their own amusement and that of the people (Lipsius, Saturnalia, ii. 16). Seneca says ( De Provid. c. 4), "I have heard a mirmillo (a kind of gladiator) in the time of C. Caesar (Caligula) complaining of the rarity of gladiatorial exhibitions: “What a glorious period of life is wasting.” “Virtue,” says Seneca, “is eager after dangers; and it considers only what it seeks, not what it may suffer.”—Upton.
15 The word is Hypothesis (ὑπόθεσις), which in this passage means “matter to work on,” “material,” “subject,” as in ii. 5, 11, where it means the “business of the pilot.” In i. 7 hypothesis has the sense of a proposition supposed for the present to be true, and used as the foundation of an argument.
16 Tropic (τροπικόν), a logical term used by Stoics, which Schweighaeuser translates “propositio connexa in syllogismo hypothetico.” The meaning of the whole is this. You do not like the work which is set before you: as we say, you are not content “to do your duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call you.” Now this is as foolish, says Wolf, as for a man in any discussion to require that his adversary should raise no objection except such as may serve the man's own case.
17 There will be a time when Tragic actors shall not know what their business is, but will think that it is all show. So, says Wolf, philosophers will be only beard and cloak, and will not show by their life and morals what they really are; or they will be like false monks, who only wear the cowl, and do not show a life of piety and sanctity.
18 God is introduced as speaking.—Schweighaeuser.
19 The word is Κύριος, the name by which a slave in Epictetus addresses his master (dominus), a physician is addressed by his patient, and in other cases also it is used. It is also used by the Evangelists. They speak of the angel of the Lord (Matt. i. 24); and Jesus is addressed by the same term (Matt. viii. 2), Lord or master. Mrs. Carter has the following note: “It hath been observed that this manner of expression is not to be met with in the Heathen authors before Christianity, and therefore it is one instance of Scripture language coming early into common use.”But the word (κύριος) is used by early Greek writers to indicate one who has power or authority, and in a sense like the Roman “dominus,” as by Sophocles for instance. The use of the word then by Epictetus was not new, and it may have been used by the Stoic writers long before his time. The language of the Stoics was formed at least two centuries before the Christian aera, and the New Testament writers would use the Greek which was current in their age. The notion of “Scripture language coming early into common use” is entirely unfounded, and is even absurd. Mrs. Carter's remark implies that Epictetus used the Scripture language, whereas he used the particular language of the Stoics, and the general language of his age, and the New Testament writers would do the same. There are resemblances between the language of Epictetus and the New Testament writers, such as the expression μὴ γένοιτο of Paul, which Epictetus often uses; but this is a slight matter. The words of Peter (Ep. ii. 1, 4), “that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,” are a Stoic expression. and the writer of this Epistle, I think, took them from the language of the Stoics.
20 The words in the text are: περὶ τῆς νήτης ῾νεάτης᾿ εἶναι ὑπάτην, “When ὑπάτη is translated 'the lowest chord or note,' it must be remembered that the names employed in the Greek musical terminology are precisely the opposite to ours. Compare νεάτη 'the highest note,' though the word in itself means lowest.”—Key's Philological Essays, p. 42, note 1.
21 I think that Schweighaeuser's interpretation is right, that “the instructed” are those who think that they are instructed but are not, as they show by their opinion that they accept in moral matters the judgment of an ignorant man, whose judgment in music or geometry they would not accept.
23 “What is the profit, my brethren, if any one should say that he hath faith and have not works?. . . . . . Thus also faith, if it hath not works, is dead in itself. But a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”—Epistle of James, ii. 14–18.
27 He calls the uninstructed and ignorant by the Greek word “Idiotae,” “idiots,” which we now use in a peculiar sense. An Idiota was a private individual as opposed to one who filled some public office; and thence it had generally the sense of one who was ignorant of any particular art, as, for instance, one who had not studied philosophy.
28 Compare the Phaedon of Plato (p. 116). The children of Socrates were brought in to see him before he took the poison by which he died; and also the wives of the friends of Socrates who attended him to his death. Socrates had ordered his wife Xanthippe to be led home before he had his last conversation with his friends, and she was taken away lamenting and bewailing.
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