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Of indifference.

1 THE hypothetical proposition2 is indifferent: the judgment about it is not indifferent, but it is either knowledge or opinion or error. Thus life is indifferent: the use is not indifferent. When any man then tells you that these things also are indifferent, do not become negligent; and when a man invites you to be careful (about such things), do not become abject and struck with admiration of material things. And it is good for you to know your own preparation and power, that in those matters where you have not been prepared, you may keep quiet, and not be vexed, if others have the advantage over you. For you too in syllogisms will claim to have the advantage over them; and if others should be vexed at this, you will console them by saying, 'I have learned them, and you have not.' Thus also where there is need of any practice, seek not that which is acquired from the need (of such practice), but yield in that matter to those who have had practice, and be yourself content with firmness of mind.

Go and salute a certain person. How? Not meanly.— But I have been shut out, for I have not learned to make my way through the window; and when I have found the door shut, I must either come back or enter through the window.—But still speak to him.—In what way? Not meanly. But suppose that you have not got what you wanted. Was this your business, and not his? Why then do you claim that which belongs to another? Always remember what is your own, and what belongs to another; and you will not be disturbed. Chrysippus therefore said well, So long as future things are uncertain, I always cling to those which are more adapted to the conservation of that which is according to nature; for God himself has given me the faculty of such choice. But if I knew that it was fated (in the order of things) for me to be sick, I would even move towards it; for the foot also, if it had intelligence, would move to go into the mud.3 For why are ears of corn produced? Is it not that they may become dry? And do they not become dry that they may be reaped?4 for they are not separated from communion with other things. If then they had perception, ought they to wish never to be reaped? But this is a curse upon ears of corn, to be never reaped. So we must know that in the case of men too it is a curse not to die, just the same as not to be ripened and not to be reaped. But since we must be reaped, and we also know that we are reaped, we are vexed at it; for we neither know what we are nor have we studied what belongs to man, as those who have studied horses know what belongs to horses. But Cbry- santas5 when he was going to strike the enemy checked himself when he heard the trumpet sounding a retreat: so it seemed better to him to obey the general's command than to follow his own inclination. But not one of us chooses, even when necessity summons, readily to obey it, but weeping and groaning we suffer what we do suffer, and we call them 'circumstances.' What kind of circumstances, man? If you give the name of circumstances to the things which are around you, all things are circumstances; but if you call hardships by this name, what hardship is there in the dying of that which has been produced? But that which destroys is either a sword, or a wheel, or the sea, or a tile, or a tyrant. Why do you care about the way of going down to Hades? All ways are equal.6 But if you will listen to the truth, the way which the tyrant sends you is shorter. A tyrant never killed a man in six months: but a fever is often a year about it. All these things are only sound and the noise of empty names.

I am in danger of my life from Caesar.7 And am not I in danger who dwell in Nicopolis, where there are so many earthquakes: and when you are crossing the Hadriatic, what hazard do you run? Is it not the hazard of your life? But I am in danger also as to opinion. Do you mean your own? how? For who can compel you to have any opinion which you do not choose? But is it as to another man's opinion? and what kind of danger is yours, if others have false opinions? But I am in danger of being banished. What is it to be banished? To be somewhere else than at Rome? Yes: what then if I should be sent to Gyara?8 If that suits you, you will go there; but if it does not, you can go to another place instead of Gyara, whither he also will go, who sends you to Gyara, whether he choose or not. Why then do you go up to Rome as if it were something great? It is not worth all this preparation, that an ingenuous youth should say, It was not worth while to have heard so much and to have written so much and to have sat so long by the side of an old man who is not worth much. Only remember that division by which your own and not your own are distinguished: never claim any thing which belongs to others. A tribunal and a prison are each a place, one high and the other low; but the will can be maintained equal, if you choose to maintain it equal in each. And we shall then be imitators of Socrates, when we are able to write paeans in prison.9 But in our present disposition, consider if we could endure in prison another person saying to us, Would you like me to read Paeans to you?—Why do you trouble me? do you not know the evils which hold me? Can I in such circumstances (listen to paeans)?—What circumstances?—I am going to die.— And will other men be immortal?


1 This discussion is with a young philosopher who, intending to return from Nicopolis to Rome, feared the tyranny of Domitian, who was particularly severe towards philosophers. See also the note on i. 24. 3. Schweig. Compare Plin. Epp. i. 12, and the expression of Corellius Rufus about the detestable villain, the emperor Domitian. The title 'of Indifference' means 'of the indifference of things;' of the things which are neither good nor bad.

2 τὸ συνημμένον, p. 93.

3 Sec. ii. 5, 24.

4 Epictetus alludes to the verses from the Hypsipyle of Euripides. Compare Antoninus (vii. 40): 'Life must be reaped like the ripe ears of corn: one man is born; another dies.' Cicero (Teuscul. Disp. iii. 25) has translated six verses from Euripides, and among them are these two: turn vita omnibus
     Metenda ut fruges; sic jubet necessitas.

5 The story is in Xenophon's Cyropaedia (IV. near the beginning) where Cyrus says that he called Chrysantas by name. Epictetus, as Upton remarks, quotes from memory.

6 So Anaxagoras said that the road to the other world (ad inferos) is the same from all places. (Cicero, Tusc. Disp. i. 43). What follows is one of the examples of extravagant assertion in Epictetus. A tyrant may kill by a slow death as a fever does. I suppose that Epictetus would have some answer to that. Except to a Stoic the ways to death are not indifferent: some ways of dying are painful, and even he who can endure with fortitude, would prefer an easy death.

7 The text has ἐπὶ Καίσαρος; but ἐπὶ perhaps ought to be ὑπό or ἀπό.

8 See i. 25, note 4.

9 Diogenes Laertius reports in his life of Socrates that he wrote in prison a Paean, and he gives the first line which contains an address to Apollo and Artemis.

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