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What philosophy promises.

When one consulted him, how he might persuade his brother to forbear treating him ill, Philosophy, answered Epictetus, does not promise to procure any outward good for man; otherwise it would include something beyond its proper theme. For as the material of a carpenter is wood; of a statuary, brass; so of the art of living, the material is each man's own life.

"What, then, is my brother's life? "

That, again, is matter for his own art, but is external to you; like property, health, or reputation. Philosophy undertakes none of these. In every circumstance I will keep my will in harmony with nature. To whom belongs that will? To Him in whom I exist.

"But how, then, is my brother's unkindness to be cured?"

Bring him to me, and I will tell him; but I have nothing to say to you about his unkindness.

But the inquirer still further asking for a rule for self-government, if he should not be reconciled, Epictetus answered thus, -

No great thing is created suddenly, any more than [p. 1056] a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you, that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen. Since, then, the fruit of a fig-tree is not brought to perfection suddenly, or in one hour, do you think to possess instantaneously and easily the fruit of the human mind? I warn you, expect it not.


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