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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.
2 See i. 9. M. Antoninus, vi. 44: 'But my nature is rational and social; and my city and country, so far as I am Antoninus, is Rome, but so far as I am a man, it is the world.' I have here translated προβάτων by 'domestic animals;' I suppose that the bovine species, and sheep and goats are meant.
3 This may appear extravagant; but it is possible to explain it, and even to assent to it. If a man believes that all is wisely arranged in the course of human events, he would not even try to resist that which he knows it is appointed for him to suffer: he would submit and he would endure. If Epictetus means that the man would actively pro— mote the end or purpose which he foreknew, in order that his acts may be consistent with what he foreknows and with his duty, perhaps the philosopher's saying is too hard to deal with; and as it rests on an impossible assumption of foreknowledge, we may be here wiser than the philosophers, if we say no more about it. Compare Seneca, de Provid. c. 5.
4 Antoninus, vi. 42: 'We are all working together to one end, some with knowledge and design, and others without knowing what they do.'
5 A lettuce is an example of the most trifling thing. A seat probably means a seat of superiority, a magistrate's seat, a Roman sella curulis.
7 Socrates. We must by no means then do an act of injustice. Crito. Certainly not. Socrates. Nor yet when you are wronged must you do wrong in return, as most people think, since you must in no way do an unjust act. Plato, Crito, c. 10.
8 See the beginning of ii. 16.
9 The same remark will apply to most dissertations spoken or written on moral subjects: they are exercises of skill for him who delivers or writes them, or matter for criticism and perhaps a way of spending an idle hour for him who listens; and that is all. Epictetus blames our indolence and indifference as to acts, and the trifling of the schools of philosophy in disputation.
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