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What solitude is, and what kind of person a solitary man is.

SOLITUDE is a certain condition of a helpless man. For because a man is alone, he is not for that reason also soli- tary; just as though a man is among numbers, he is not therefore not solitary. When then we have lost either a brother, or a son or a friend on whom we were accustomed to repose, we say that we are left solitary, though we are often in Rome, though such a crowd meet us, though so many live in the same place, and sometimes we have a great number of slaves. For the man who is solitary, as It is conceived, is considered to be a helpless person and exposed to those who wish to harm him. For this reason when we travel, then especially do we say that we are lonely when we fall among robbers, for it is not the sight of a human creature which removes us from solitude, but the sight of one who is faithful and modest and helpful to us. For if being alone is enough to make solitude, you may say that even Zeus is solitary in the conflagration1 and bewails himself saying, Unhappy that I am who have neither Hera, nor Athena, nor Apollo, nor brother, nor son, nor descendant nor kinsman. This is what some say that he does when he is alone at the conflagration.2 For they do not understand how a man passes his life when he is alone, because they set out from a certain natural principle, from the natural desire of community and mutual love and from the pleasure of conversation among men. But none the less a man ought to be prepared in a manner for this also (being alone), to be able to be sufficient for himself and to be his own companion. For as Zeus dwells with himself, and is tranquil by himself, and thinks of his own administration and of its nature, and is employed in thoughts suitable to himself; so ought we also to be able to talk with ourselves, not to feel the want of others also, not to be unprovided with the means of passing our time; to observe the divine administration, and the relation of ourselves to every thing else; to consider how we for- merly were affected towards things that happen and how at present; what are still the things which give us pain; how these also can be cured and how removed; if any things require improvement, to improve them according to reason.

For you see that Caesar appears to furnish us with great peace, that there are no longer enemies nor battles nor great associations of robbers nor of 'pirates, but we can travel at every hour and sail from east to west. But can Caesar give us security from fever also, can he from ship- wreck, from fire, from earthquake or from lightning? well, I will say, can he give us security against love? He cannot. From sorrow? He cannot. From envy? He cannot. In a word then he cannot protect us from any of these things. But the doctrine of philosophers promises to give us security (peace) even against these things. And what does it say? Men, if you will attend to me, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you will not feel sorrow, nor anger, nor compulsion, nor hindrance, but you will pass your time without perturbations and free from every thing. When a man has this peace, not proclaimed by Caesar, (for how should he be able to proclaim it?), but by God through reason, is he not content when he is alone? when he sees and reflects, Now no evil can happen to me; for me there is no robber, no earthquake, every thing is full of peace, full of tranquillity: every way, every city, every meeting, neighbour, companion is harmless. One person whose business it is, supplies me with food;3 another with raiment; another with perceptions, and preconceptions (προλήψεις). And if he does not supply what is necessary, he (God) gives the signal for retreat, opens the door, and says to you, Go. Go whither? To nothing terrible, but to the place from which you came, to your friends and kins- men, to the elements:4 what there was in you of fire goes to fire; of earth, to earth; of air (spirit), to air; of water to water: no Hades, nor Acheron, nor Cocytus, nor Pyriphlegethon, but all is full of Gods and Daemons. When a man has such things to think on, and sees the sun, the moon and stars, and enjoys earth and sea, he is not solitary nor even helpless. Well then, if some man should come upon me when I am alone and murder me? Fool, not murder You, but your poor body.

What kind of solitude then remains? what want? why do we make ourselves worse than children? and what do children do when they are left alone? They take up shells and ashes, and they build something, then pull it down, and build something else, and so they never want the means of passing the time. Shall I then, if you sail away, sit down and weep, because I have been left alone and solitary? Shall I then have no shells, no ashes? But children do what they do through want of thought (or deficiency in knowledge), and we through knowledge are unhappy.

Every great power (faculty) is dangerous to beginners.5 You must then bear such things as you are able, but conformably to nature: but not . . . . Practise sometimes a way of living like a person out of health that you may at some time live like a man in health. Abstain from food, drink water, abstain sometimes altogether from desire, in order that you may some time desire consistently with reason; and if consistently with reason, when you have anything good in you, you will desire well.—Not so; but we wish to live like wise men immediately and to be useful to men—Useful how? what are you doing? have you been useful to yourself? But, I suppose, you wish to exhort them? You exhort them!6 You wish to be useful to them. Show to them in your own example what kind of men philosophy makes, and don't trifle. When you are eating, do good to those who eat with you; when you are drinking, to those who are drinking with you; by yielding to all, giving way, bearing with them, thus do them good, and do not spit on them your phlegm (bad humours).


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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