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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 The practical teaching of the Stoics is contained in iii. c. 7, and it is good and wise. A modern writer says of modern practice: 'If we open our eyes and if we will honestly acknowledge to ourselves what we discover, we shall be compelled to confess that all the life and efforts of the civilized people of our times is founded on a view of the world, which is directly opposed to the view of the world which Jesus had' (Strauss, Der alte und der neue Glaube, p. 74).
2 Cicero (Academ. Prior. ii. 47) names Antipater and Archedemus (Archedemus) the chief of dialecticians, and also 'opiniosissimi homines.'
3 This passage is one of those which show the great good sense of Epictetus in the matter of education; and some other remarks to the same effect follow in this chapter. A man might justly say that we have no clear notion of the purpose of education. A modern writer, who seems to belong to the school of Epictetus says: “it cannot be denied that in all schools of all kinds it ought to be the first and the chief object to make children healthy, good, honest, and, if possible, sensible men and women; and if this is not done in a reasonable degree, I maintain that the education of these schools is good for nothing—I do not propose to make children good and honest and wise by precepts and dogmas and preaching, as you will see. They must be made good and wise by a cultivation of the understanding, by the practice of the discipline necessary for that purpose, and by the example of him who governs, directs and instructs.” Further, “my men and women teachers have something which the others have not: they have a purpose, an end in their system of education; and what is education? What is human life without some purpose or end which may be attained by industry, order and the exercise of moderate abilities? Great abilities are rare, and they are often accompanied by qualities which make the abilities useless to him who has them, and even injurious to society.”
5 See the note of T. Burnet, De Fide et Officiis Christianorum, Ed. Sec. p. 89.
6 The reader, who has an inclination to compare religious forms antient and modern, may find something in modern practice to which the words of Epictetus are applicable.
7 This is a view of the fitness of a teacher which, as far as I know, is quite new; and it is also true. Perhaps there was some vague notion of this kind in modern Europe at the time when teachers of youths were only priests, and when it was supposed that their fitness for the office of teacher was secured by their fitness for the office of priest. In the present 'Ordering of Deacons' in the Church of England, the person, who is proposed as a fit person to be a deacon, is asked the following question by the bishop: 'Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and ministration to serve God for the promotion of his glory and the edifying of his people?' 'In the ordering of Priests' this question is omitted, and another question only is put, which is used also in the ordering of Deacons; 'Do you think in your heart that you be truly called, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ' etc. The teacher ought to have God to advise him to occupy the office of teacher, as Epictetus says. He does not say how God will advise: perhaps he supposed that this advice might be given in the way in which Socrates said that he received it. ' Wisdom perhaps is not enough' to enable a man to take care of youths. Whatever 'wisdom' may mean, it is true that a teacher should have a fitness and liking for the business. If he has not, he will find it disagreeable, and he will not do it well. He may and ought to gain a reasonable living by his labour: if he seeks only money and wealth, he is on the wrong track, and he is only like a common dealer in buying and selling, a butcher or a shoemaker, or a tailor, all useful members of society and all of them necessary in their several kinds. But the teacher has a priestly office, the making, as far as it is possible, children into good men and women. Should he he 'ordered' like a Deacon or a Priest, for his office is even more useful than that of Priest or Deacon? Some will say that this is ridiculous. Perhaps the wise will not think so.
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