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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.
1 This was the doctrine of Heraclitus 'that all things were com- posed from (had their origin in) fire, and were resolved into it,' an opinion afterwards adopted by the Stoics. It is not so extravagant, as it may appear to some persons, to suppose that the earth had a beginning, is in a state of continual change, and will finally be destroyed in some way, and have a new beginning. See Seneca, Ep. 9 'cum resolute mundo, diis in unum confusis, paulisper oessante natura, adquiescit sibi Jupiter, cogitationibus suis traditus.'
2 The Latin translation is: 'hoe etiam nonnulli facturum eum in conflagratione mundi . . . . aiunt.' But the word is ποιεῖ; and this may mean that the conflagration has happened, and will happen again. The Greek philosophers in their speculations were not troubled with the consideration of time. Even Herodotus (ii. 11), in his speculations on the gulf, which he supposes that the Nile valley was once, speaks of the possibility of it being filled up in 20,000 years, or less. Modern speculators have only recently become bold enough to throw aside the notion of the earth and the other bodies in space being limited by time, as the ignorant have conceived it.
3 See iii. 1, 43.
4 What a melancholy description of death and how gloomy the ideas in this consolatory chapter! All beings reduced to mere elements in successive conflagrations! A noble contrast to the Stoic notions on this subject may be produced from several passages in the Scripture—“Then shall the dust return to the earth, as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it,” Eecles. xii. 7.' Mrs. Carter; who also refers to 1 Thess. iv. 14; John vi. 39, 40; xi. 25, 26; I Cor. vi. 14; xv. 53; 2 Cor. v. 14 etc. Mrs. Carter quotes Ecclesiastes, but the author sass nearly what Epicharmus said, quoted by Plutarch, παραμυθ. πρὸς 'Απολλώνιον, vol. i. p. 435 ed. Wytt.συνεκρίθη καὶ διεκρίθη καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ὅθεν ἦλθε πάλιν,
γᾶ μὲν ἐς γᾶν, πνεῦμα δ᾽ ἄνω τί τῶνδε χαλεπόν; οὐδὲ ἕν.
Euripides in a fragment of the Chrysippus, fr. 836, ed. Nauck, says τὰ μὲν ἐκ γαίας φύντ᾽ εἰς γαῖαν,
τὰ δ᾽ ἀπ᾽ αἰθερίου βλαστόντα γονῆς
εἰς οὐράνιον πάλιν ἦλθε πόλον.
I have translated the words of Epictetus ὅσον πνευματίου, εἰς πνευμάτιον by 'of air (spirit), to air': but the πνευμάτιον of Epictetus may mean the same as the πνεῦμα of Epicharmus, and the same as the 'spirit' of Ecclesiastes. An English commentator says that “the doctrine of a future retribution forms the great basis and the leading truth of this book (Ecclesiastes),” and that “the royal Preacher (Ecclesiastes) brings forward the prospect of a future life and retribution.” I cannot discover any evidence of this assertion in the book. The conclusion is the best part of this ill-connected, obscure and confused book, as it appears in our translation. The conclusion is (xii. 13, 14): 'Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man, for God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.' This is all that I can discover in the book which can support the commentator's statement; and even this may not mean what he affirms. Schweighaeuser observes that here was the opportunity for Epictetus to say something of the immortality of the soul, if he had any thing to say. But he says nothing unless he means to say that the soul, the spirit, “returns to God who gave it” as the Preacher says. There is a passage (iii. 24, 94) which appears to mean that the soul of man after death will be changed into something else, which the universe will require for some use or purpose. It is strange, observes Schweig., that Epictetus, who studied the philosophy of Socrates, and speaks so eloquently of man's capacity and his duty to God, should say no more: but the explanation may be that he had no doctrine of man's immortality, in the sense in which that word is now used.
5 The text has ἀρχομένων, but it probably ought to be ἀρχομένῳ. Compare i. 1, 8, πᾶσα δύναμις ἐπισφαλής. The text from φέρειν οὖν δεῖ to τῷ φθισικῷ is unintelligible. Lord Shaftesbury says that the passage is not corrupt, and he gives an explanation; but Schweig. says that the learned Englishman's exposition does not make the text plainer to him; nor does it to me. Schweig. observes that the passage which begins πᾶσα μεγάλη and what follows seem to belong to the next chapter xiv.
6 See Schweig.'s note, and the Latin version
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