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To Naso.

WHEN a certain Roman entered with his son and listened to one reading, Epictetus said, This is the method of instruction; and he stopped. When the Roman asked him to go on, Epictetus said, Every art when it is taught causes labour to him who is unacquainted with it and is unskilled in it, and indeed the things which proceed from the arts immediately show their use in the purpose for which they were made; and most of them contain something attractive and pleasing. For indeed to be present and to observe how a shoemaker learns is not a pleasant thing; but the shoe is useful and also not disagreeable to look at. And the discipline of a smith when he is learning is very disagreeable to one who chances to be present and is a stranger to the art: but the work shows the use of the art. But you will see this much more in music; for if you are present while a person is learning, the discipline will appear most disagreeable; and yet the results of music are pleasing and delightful to those who know nothing of music. And here we conceive the work of a philosopher to be something of this kind: he must adapt his wish (βούλησιν) to what is going on,1 so that neither any of the things which are taking place shall take place contrary to our wish, nor any of the things which do not take place shall not take place when we wish that they should. From this the result is to those who have so arranged the work of philosophy, not to fail in the desire, nor to fall in with that which they would avoid; without uneasiness, without fear, without perturbation to pass through life themselves, together with their associates maintaining the relations both natural and acquired,2 as the relation of son, of father, of brother, of citizen, of man, of wife, of neighbour, of fellow traveller, of ruler, of ruled. The work of a philosopher we conceive to be something like this. It remains next to inquire how this must be accomplished.

We see then that the carpenter (τέκτων) when he has learned certain things becomes a carpenter; the pilot by learning certain things becomes a pilot. May it not then in philosophy also not be sufficient to wish to be wise and good, and that there is also a necessity to learn certain things? We inquire then what these things are. The philosophers say that we ought first to learn that there is a God and that he provides for all things; also that it is not possible to conceal from him our acts, or even our intentions and thoughts.3 The next thing is to learn what is the nature of the Gods; for such as they are discovered to be, he, who would please and obey them, must try with all his power to be like them. If the divine is faithful, man also must be faithful; if it is free, man also must be free; if beneficent, man also must be beneficent; if magnanimous, mall also must be magnanimous; as being then an imitator of God he must do and say every thing consistently with this fact.

With what then must we begin? If you will enter on the discussion, I will tell you that you must first under- stand names4 (words).—So then you say that I do not now understand names.—You do not understand them.— How then do I use them?—Just as the illiterate use written language, as cattle use appearances: for use is one thing, understanding is another. But if you think that you understand them, produce whatever word you please, and let us try whether we understand it.—But it is a disagreeable thing for a man to be confuted who is now old, and, it may be, has now served his three campaigns.—I too know this: for now you are come to me as if you were in want of nothing: and what could you even imagine to be wanting to you? You are rich, you have children and a wife perhaps, and many slaves: Caesar knows you, in Rome you have many friends, you render their dues to all, you know how to requite him who does you a favour, and to repay in the same kind him who does you a wrong. What do you lack? If then I shall shew you that you lack the things most necessary and the chief things for happiness, and that hitherto you have looked after every thing rather than what you ought, and, to crown all,5 that you neither know what God is nor what man is, nor what is good nor what is bad; and as to what I have said about your ignorance of other matters, that may perhaps be endured, but if I say that you know nothing about yourself, how is it possible that you should endure me and bear the proof and stay here? It is not possible; but you immediately go off in bad humour. And yet what harm have I done you? unless the mirror also injures the ugly man because it shows him to himself such as he is; unless the physician also is supposed to insult the sick man, when he says to him, Man, do you think that you ail nothing? But you have a fever: go without food to—day; drink water. And no one says, what an insult! But if you say to a man, Your desires are inflamed, your aversions are low, your intentions are inconsistent, your pursuits (movements) are not conformable to nature, your opinions are rash and false, the man immediately goes away and says, He has insulted me.

Our way of dealing is like that of a crowded assembly.6 Beasts are brought to be sold and oxen; and the greater part of the men come to buy and sell, and there are some few who come to look at the market and to inquire how it is carried on, and why, and who fixes the meeting and for what purpose. So it is here also in this assembly (of life): some like cattle trouble themselves about nothing except their fodder. For to all of you who are busy about possessions and lands and slaves and magisterial offices, these are nothing except fodder. But there are a few who attend the assembly, men who love to look on and consider what is the world, who governs it. Has it no governor?7 And how is it possible that a city or a family cannot continue to exist, not even the shortest time without an administrator and guardian, and that so great and beautiful a system should be administered with such order and yet without a purpose and by chance?8 There is then an administrator. What kind of administrator and how does he govern? And who are we, who were produced by him, and for what purpose? Have we some connexion with him and some relation towards him, or none? This is the way in which these few are affected, and then they apply themselves only to this one thing, to examine the meeting and then to go away. What then? They are ridiculed by the many, as the spectators at the fair are by the traders; and if the beasts had any understanding, they would ridicule those who admired anything else than fodder.


1 Encheiridion, c. 8: 'Do not seek (wish) that things which take place shall take place as you desire, but desire that things which take place shall take place as they do, and you will live a tranquil life.'

2 Compare iii. 2. 4, iv. 8. 20. Antoninus (viii. 27) writes: 'There are three relations [between thee and other things]: the one to the body which surrounds thee; the second to the divine cause from which all things come to all; and the third to those who live with thee.' This is precise, true and practical. Those who object to 'the divine cause,' may write in place of it 'the nature and constitution of things;' for there is a constitution of things, which the philosopher attempts to. discover; and for most practical purposes, it is immaterial whether we say that it is of divine origin or has some other origin, or no origin can be discovered. The fact remains that a constitution of things exists; or, if that expression be not accepted, we may say that we conceive that it exists and we cannot help thinking so.

3 See i. 14. 13, ii. 8. 14. Socrates (Xen. Mem. i. 1. 19) said the same. That man should make himself like the Gods is said also by Antoninus, x. 8.—See Plato, De Legg. i. 4. (Upton.) When God is said to provide for all things, this is what the Greeks called πρόνοια, providence. (Epictetus, i. 16, iii. 17.) In the second of these passages there is a short answer to some objections made to Providence.

Epictetus could only know or believe what God is by the observation of phaenomena; and he could only know what he supposed to be God's providence by observing his administration of the world and all that happens in it. Among other works of God is man, who possesses certain intellectual powers which enable him to form a judgment of God's works, and a judgment of man himself. Man has or is supposed to have certain moral sentiments, or a capacity of acquiring them in some way. On the supposition that all man's powers are the gift of God, man's power of judging what happens in the world under God's providence is the gift of God: and if he should not be satisfied with God's administration, we have the conclusion that man, whose powers are from God, condemns that administration which is also from God. Thus God and man, who is God's work, are in opposition to one another.

If a man rejects the belief in a deity and in a providence, because of the contradictions and difficulties involved in this belief or supposed to be involved in it, and if he finds the contradictions and difficulties such as he cannot reconcile with his moral sentiments and judgments, he will be consistent in rejecting the notion of a deity and of providence. But he must also consistently admit that his moral sentiments and judgments are his own, and that he cannot say how he acquired them, or how he has any of the corporeal or intellectual powers which he is daily using. By the hypothesis they are not from God. All then that a man can say is that he has such powers.

4 See ii. 10, i. 17. 12, ii. 11. 4, etc. M. Antoninus, x. 8.

5 The original is 'to add the colophon,' which is a proverbial express- sion and signifies to give the last touch to a thing.

6 See the fragments of Menander quoted by Upton.

7

Sunt In Fortunae qui casibus omnnia ponunt,
Et mundum credunt nullo rectore moveri.

.

8 From the fact that man has some intelligence Voltaire concludes that we must admit that there is a greater intelligence. (Letter to Mde. Necker. Vol. 67, ed. Kehl. p. 278.)

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