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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 'They, who are desirous of taking refuge in Heathenism from the strictness of the Christian morality, will find no great consolation in reading this chapter of Epictetus.' Mrs. Carter.
2 Aristides was a Greek, but his period is not known. He was the author of a work named Milesiaca or Milesian stories. All that we know of the work is that it was of a loose description, amatory and licentious. It was translated into Latin by L. Cornelius Sisenna, a contemporary of the Dictator Sulla; and it is mentioned by Plutarch (Life of Crassus, c. 32), and several times by Ovid (Tristia ii. 413 etc.). Evenus was perhaps a poet. We know nothing of this Evenus, but we may conjecture from being here associated with Aristides what his character was.
4 The orginal is φελῆσαι δεῖ. Seneca (Ep. 80): 'Quid tibi opus est ut sis bonus? Velle.' Upton. The power of the Will is a fundamental principle with Epictetus. The will is strong in some, but very feeble in others; and sometimes, as experience seems to show, it is incapable of resisting the power of old habits.
5 Virtue is its own reward, said the Stoics. This is the meaning of Epictetus, and it is consistent with his principles that a man should live conformably to his nature, and so he will have all the happiness of which human nature is capable. Mrs. Carter has a note here, which I do not copy, and I hardly understand. It seems to refer to the Christian doctrine of a man being rewarded in a future life according to his works: but we have no evidence that Epictetus believed in a future life, and he therefore could not go further than to maintain that virtuous behaviour is the best thing in this short life, and will give a man the happiness which he can obtain in no other way.
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