previous next

To those who read and discuss for the sake of ostentation.

1 FIRST say to yourself Who you wish to be: then do accordingly what you are doing; for in nearly all other things we see this to be so. Those who follow athletic exercises first determine what they wish to be, then they do accordingly what follows. If a man is a runner in the long course, there is a certain kind of diet, of walking, rubbing, and exercise: if a man is a runner in the stadium, all these things are different; if he is a Pentathlete, they are still more different. So you will find it also in the arts. If you are a carpenter, you will have such and such things: if a worker in metal, such things. For every thing that we do, if we refer it to no end, we shall do it to no purpose; and if we refer it to the wrong end, we shall miss the mark. Further, there is a general end or purpose, and a particular purpose. First of all, we must act as a man. What is comprehended in this? We must not be like a sheep, though gentle; nor mischievous, like a wild beast. But the particular end has reference to each person's mode of life and his will. The lute-player acts as a lute-player, the carpenter as a carpenter, the philosopher as a philosopher, the rhetorician as a rhetorician. When then you say, Come and hear me read to you: take care first of all that you are not doing this without a purpose; then if you have discovered that you are doing this with reference to a purpose, consider if it is the right purpose. Do you wish to do good or to be praised? Immediately you hear him saying, To me what is the value of praise from the many? and he says well, for it is of no value to a musician, so far as he is a musician, nor to a geometrician. Do you then wish to be useful? in what? tell us that we may run to your audience room. Now can a man do anything useful to others, who has not received something useful himself? No, for neither can a man do any thing useful in the carpenter's art, unless he is a carpenter; nor in the shoemaker's art, unless he is a shoemaker.

Do you wish to know then if you have received any advantage? Produce your opinions, philosopher. What is the thing which desire promises? Not to fail in the object. What does aversion promise? Not to fall into that which you would avoid. Well; do we fulfill their promise? Tell me the truth; but if you lie, I will tell you. Lately when your hearers came together rather coldly, and did not give you applause, you went away humbled. Lately again when you had been praised, you went about and said to all, What did you think of me? Wonderful, master, I swear by all that is dear to me. But how did I treat of that particular matter? Which? The passage in which I described Pan and the nymphs?2 Excellently. Then do you tell me that in desire and in aversion you are acting according to nature? Be gone; try to persuade somebody else. Did you not praise a cer- tain person contrary to your opinion? and did you not flatter a certain person who was the son of a senator? Would you wish your own children to be such persons?—I hope not—Why then did you praise and flatter him? He is an ingenuous youth and listens well to discourses— How is this?—He admires me. You have stated your proof. Then what do you think? do not these very people secretly despise you? When then a man who is conscious that he has neither done any good nor ever thinks of it, finds a philosopher who says, You have a great natural talent, and you have a candid and good disposition, what else do you think that he says except this, This man has some need of me? Or tell me what act that indicates a great mind has he shown? Observe; he has been in your company a long time; he has listened to your discourses, he has heard you reading; has he become more modest? has he been turned to reflect on himself? has he per- ceived in what a bad state he is? has he cast away self- conceit? does he look for a person to teach him? He does. A man who will teach him to live? No, fool, but how to talk; for it is for this that he admires you also. Listen and hear what he says: This man writes with perfect art, much better than Dion.3 This is altogether another thing. Does he say, This man is modest, faithful, free from perturbations? and even if he did say it, I should say to him, Since this man is faithful, tell me what this faithful man is. And if he could not tell me, I should add this, First understand what you say, and then speak.

You then, who are in a wretched plight and gaping after applause and counting your auditors, do you intend to be useful to others?—To-day many more attended my discourse. Yes, many; we suppose five hundred. That is nothing; suppose that there were a thousand—Dion never had so many hearers—How could he?—And they understand what is said beautifully. What is fine, master, can move even a stone—See, these are the words of a philosopher. This is the disposition of a man who will do good to others; here is a man who has listened to discourses, who has read what is written about Socrates as Socratic, not as the compositions of Lysias and Isocrates. 'I have often wondered by what arguments.'4 Not so, but 'by what argument': this is more exact than that— What, have you read the words at all in a different way from that in which you read little odes? For if you read them as you ought, you would not have been attending to such matters, but you would rather have been looking to these words: “Anytus and Melitus are able to kill me, but they cannot harm me:” “and I am always of such a disposition as to pay regard to nothing of my own except to the reason which on inquiry seems to me the best.”5 Hence who ever heard Socrates say, “I know something and I teach;” but he used to send different people to different teachers. Therefore they used to come to him and ask to be introduced to philosophers by him; and he would take them and recommend them.—Not so; but as he accompanied them he would say, Hear me to-day discoursing in the house of Quadratus.6 Why should I hear you? Do you wish to show me that you put words together cleverly? You put them together, man; and what good will it do you?—But only praise me.—What do you mean by praising?—Say to me, admirable, wonderful.—Well, I say so. But if that is praise whatever it is which philosophers mean by the name (κατηγορία7 of good, what have I to praise in you? If it is good to speak well, teach me, and I will praise you.—What then? ought a man to listen to such things without pleasure?— I hope not. For my part I do not listen even to a lute- player without pleasure. Must I then for this reason stand and play the lute? Hear what Socrates says, Nor would it be seemly for a man of my age, like a young man composing addresses, to appear before you.8 Like a young man, he says. For in truth this small art is an elegant thing, to select words, and to put them together, and to come forward and gracefully to read them or to speak, and while he is reading to say, There are not many who can do these things, I swear by all that you value.

Does a philosopher invite people to hear him? As the sun himself draws men to him, or as food does, does not the philosopher also draw to him those who will receive benefit? What physician invites a man to be treated by him? Indeed I now hear that even the physicians in Rome do invite patients, but when I lived there, the physicians were invited. I invite you to come and hear that things are in a bad way for you, and that you are taking care of every thing except that of which you ought to take care, and that you are ignorant of the good and the bad and are unfortunate and unhappy. A fine kind of invitation: and yet if the words of the philosopher do not produce this effect on you, he is dead, and so is the speaker. Rufus was used to say: If you have leisure to praise me, I am speaking to no purpose.9 Accordingly he used to speak in such a way that every one of us who were sitting there supposed that some one had accused him before Rufus: he so touched on what was doing, he so placed before the eyes every man's faults.

The philosopher's school, ye men, is a surgery: you ought not to go out of it with pleasure, but with pain. For you are not in sound health when you enter: one has dislocated his shoulder, another has an abscess, a third a fistula, and a fourth a head ache. Then do I sit and utter to you little thoughts and exclamations that you may praise me and go away, one with his shoulder in the same condition in which he entered, another with his head still aching, and a third with his fistula or his abscess just as they were? Is it for this then that young men shall quit home, and leave their parents and their friends and kin- smen and property, that they may say to you, Wonderful! when you are uttering your exclamations. Did Socrates do this, or Zeno, or Cleanthes?

What then? is there not the hortatory style? Who denies it? as there is the style of refutation, and the didactic style. Who then ever reckoned a fourth style with these, the style of display? What is the hortatory style? To be able to show both to one person and to many the struggle in which they are engaged, and that they think more about any thing than about what they really wish. For they wish the things which lead to happiness, but they look for them in the wrong place. In order that this may be done, a thousand seats must be placed and men must be invited to listen, and you must ascend the pulpit in a fine robe or cloak and describe the death of Achilles. Cease, I intreat you by the gods, to spoil good words and good acts as much as you can. Nothing can have more power in exhortation that when the speaker shows to the hearers that he has need of them. But tell me who when he hears you reaching or discoursing is anxious about himself or turns to reflect on himself? or when he has gone out says, The philosopher hit me well: I must no longer do these things. But does he not, even if you have a great reputation, say to some person? He spoke finely about Xerxes;10 and another says, No, but about the battle of Thermopylae. Is this listening to a philosopher?

1 Epictetus in an amusing manner touches on the practice of Sophists, Rhetoricians, and others, who made addresses only to get praise. This practice of reciting prose or verse compositions was common in the time of Epictetus, as we may learn from the letters of the younger Pliny, Juvenal, Martial, and the author of the treatise de Causis corruptae eloqwuntiae. Upton.

2 Such were the subjects which the literary men of the day de. lighted in.

3 Dion of Prusa in Bithynia was named Chrysostomus (golden- mouthed) because of his eloquence. He was a rhetorician and sophist, as the term was then understood, and was living at the same time as Epictetus. Eighty of his orations written in Greek are still extant, and some fragments of fifteen.

4 These words are the beginning of Xenophon's Memorabilia, i. 1. The small critics disputed whether the text should be τίσι λόγοις, or τίνι λόγῳ.

5 From the Crito of Plato, c. 6.

6 The rich, says Upton, used to lend their houses for recitations, as we learn from Pliny, Ep. viii. 12 and Juvenal, vii. 40. Si dulcedine famae
     Succensus recites, maculosas commodat aedes.

Quadratus is a Roman name. There appears to be a confusion between Socrates and Quadratus. The man says, No. Socrates would not do so: but he would do, as a man might do now. He would say on the road; I hope you will come to hear me. I don't find anything in the notes on this passage; but it requires explanation.

7 κατηγορία is one of Aristotle's common terms.

8 From Plato's Apology of Socrates.

9 Aulus Gellius v. 1. Seneca, Ep. 52. Upton.

10 Cicero, de Officiis i. 18:'Quae magno animo et fortiter excellenterque gesta sunt, ea nescio quomodo pleniore ore laudamus. Hino Rhetorum campus de Marathone, Salamine, Plataeis, Thermopylis, Leuctria.'

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1916)
load focus English (Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1890)
hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 1.1
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 1.18
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 5.1
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: