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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 See Schweig.'s note on the text. By the Galilaeans it is probable that Epictetus means the Christians, whose obstinacy Antoninus also mentions (xi. 3). Epictetus, a contemporary of St. Paul, knew little about the Christians, and only knew some examples of their obstinate adherence to the new faith and the fanatical behaviour of some of the converts. That there were wild fanatics among the early Christians is proved on undoubted authority; and also that there always have been such, and now are such. The abuse of any doctrines or religious opinions is indeed no argument against such doctrines or religious opinions; and it is a fact quite consistent with experience that the best things are liable to be perverted, misunderstood, and misused.
3 See Schweig.'s note.
4 He says that the body will be resolved into the things of which it is composed: none of them will perish. The soul, as he has said elsewhere, will go to him who gave it (iii. 13. note 4). But I do not suppose that he means that the soul will exist as having a separate consciousness.
6 See i. 19. note 6.
7 'Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt,' Matthew xxvi. 39. Mrs. Carter. 'Our resignation to the will of God may be said to be perfect, when our will is lost and resolved up into his; when we rest in his will as our end, as being itself most just and right and good.' Bp. Butler, Sermon on the Love of God.
8 See iv. 1. note 59.
10 Here Epictetus admits that there is some power in man which uses the body, directs and governs it. He does not say what the power is nor what he supposes it to be. “Upon the whole then our organs of sense and our limbs are certainly instruments, which the living persons, ourselves, make use of to perceive and move with.” Butler's Analogy, chap. i.
11 The will of a fool does not make law, he says. Unfortunately it does, if we use the word law in the strict sense of law: for law is a general command from a person, an absolute king, for example, who has power to enforce it on those to whom the command is addressed or if not to enforce it, to punish for disobedience to it. This strict use of the word 'law' is independent of the quality of the command, which may be wise or foolish, good or bad. But Epictetus does not use the word 'law' in the strict sense.
13 This term (τὸ ἡγεμονικόν) has been often used by Epictetus (i. 26. 15. etc), and by M. Antoninus. Here Epictetus gives a definition or description of it: it is the faculty by which we reflect and judge and determine, a faculty which no other animal has, a faculty which in many men is neglected, and weak because it is neglected; but still it ought to be what its constitution forms it to be, a faculty which “plainly bears upon it marks of authority over all the rest, and claims the absolute direction of them all, to allow or forbid their gratification” (Bp. Butler, Preface to his Sermons). The words in the text (ἐκλεγόμενον, ἀπεκλεγόμενον, selection and rejection) are expressed by Cicero (De Fin. ix. ii. 11) by 'eligere' and 'rejicere.'
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