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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.
4 If you assume any two of these three, they must be in contradiction to the third and destroy it.
5 '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 historian, not a philosopher. He is bantering the hearer: it makes no matter from what author I learned them; it is all the same. The real question is, have you examined what Good and 'Evil are, and have you formed an opinion yourself?
6 The Peripatetics allowed many things to be good which contributed to a happy life; but still they contended that the smallest mental excellence was superior to all other things. Cicero, De Fin. v. 5. 31.
7 See ii. c. 8. 20.
8 'to blame God' means to blame the constitution and order of things, for to do this appeared to Epictetus to be absurd and wicked; as absurd as for the potter's vessel to blame the potter, if that can be imagined, for making it liable to wear out and to break.
9 'Our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ,' 1 John i. 3. The attentive reader will observe several passages besides those which have been noticed, in which there is a striking conformity between Epictetus and the Scriptures: and will perceive from them, either that the Stoics had learnt a good deal of the Christian language or that treating a subject practically and in earnest leads men to such strong expressions as we often find in Scripture and sometimes in the philosophers, especially Epictetus.' Mrs. Carter. The word 'fellowship' in the passage of John and of Epictetus is κοινωνία. See i. 29. note 19.
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