This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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 'Itaque Arcesilas negabat esse quidquam quod soiri posset, ne illud quidem ipsum, quod Socrates sibi reliquisset. Sic omnia latere censebat in occulto, neque ease quidquam quod oerni aut intelligi possit. Quibus de causis nihil oportere neque profiteri neque adfirmare quemquam neque adsensione adprobare.' Cicero, Academ. Post. 1. 12, Diog. Laert. ix. 90 of the Pyrrhonists.
2 Cicero, de Fin. ii. 30. 31, speaking of the letter, which Epicurus wrote to Hermarchus when he was dying, says 'that the actions of Epicurus were inconsistent with his sayings,' and 'his writings were confuted by his probity and morality.'
3 Paul says, Cor. i. 15. 32: 'If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.' The words 'let us eat and drink, etc.' are said to be a quotation from the Thais of Menander. The meaning seems to be, that if I do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, why should I not enjoy the sensual pleasures of life only? This is not the doctrine of Epictetus, as we see in the text.
4 It would give security to the Epicureans, that they would enjoy all that they value, if other men should be persuaded that we are all made for fellowship, and that temperance is a good thing.
7 Polybius (vi. 56), when he is speaking of the Roman state, commends the men of old time, who established in the minds of the multitude the opinions about the gods and Hades, wherein, he says, they acted more wisely than those in his time who would destroy suck opinions.
8 Epictetus alludes to the Spartans who fought at Thermopylae
B. C. 480 against Xerxes and his army. Herodotus (vii. 228) has
recorded the inscription placed over the Spartans:—
Stranger, go tell the Spartans, Here we lie
Obedient to those who bade us die.
10 He is now attacking the Academics, who asserted that we can know nothing.
11 Epictetus is speaking according to the popular notions. To deny Demeter and to eat the bread which she gives is the same thing in the common notions of the Greeks, as it would be for Epictetus to deny the existence of God and to eat the bread which he gives.
13 This resembles what our Saviour said to the Jewish rulers: Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.' Matthew, xxi. 31. Mrs. Carter. To an Academic who said he comprehended nothing, the Stoic Ariston replied, 'Do you not see even the person who is sitting near you? When the Academic denied it, Ariston said,' Who made you blind? who stole your power of sight?' (Diog. Laert. vii. 163. Upton.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.