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Arrian to Lucius Gellius

Wisheth all happiness.
I neither composed the Discourses of Epictetus in the sense in which things of this nature can properly be said to have been composed, nor did I myself produce them to public view, any more than I composed them. But whatever I heard from his own mouth, that I tried to set down in the very same words, so far as possible, and to preserve as memorials for my own use, of his manner of thinking, and his frank utterance.

These Discourses are such as one person would naturally deliver from his own thoughts, ex tempore, to another; not such as he would prepare to be read by others afterwards. Such as they are, I cannot tell how, without either my consent or knowledge, they have fallen into the hands of the public. But it is of little consequence to me if I do not appear an able writer, and of none to Epictetus if any one treats his [p. 1002] Discourses with contempt; since it was very evident, even when he uttered them, that he aimed at nothing more than to move the minds of his hearers toward virtue. If they produce that one effect, they have in them what, I think, philosophical discourses ought to have. And should they fail of it, let the readers however be assured, that when Epictetus himself pronounced them, his audience could not help being affected in the very manner he intended they should. If by themselves his Discourses have less efficacy, perhaps it is my fault, or perhaps it is unavoidable.

Farewell. [p. 1003]


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