MY DEAR AFRICAN, EPICTETUS AND HIS STOIC PHILOSOPHY MIGHT HELP YOU!
Epictetus, Discourses and Selected writings. (135 AD). London: Penguin Books.
On Sunday, I suddenly began thinking about Epictetus (55-135 AD). I went to my books to fish out some of his books; I know that I have read them, after all I used to use his stoic philosophy when I was an active psychotherapist. I used to practice what is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy, the proponents are mainly Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck.
Ellis was heavily influenced by Epictetus. The fulcrum of Ellis therapy is that it is not what is happening in the world that makes you happy, or sad, or fearful, or anxious, or angry but how you think about it. Your cognition and mentation are what makes you feel as you feel.
The world does not do anything, good or bad, to you; it is how you see the world, how you think about the world. Cognitive mental health professionals (psychiatrists and psychologists), therefore, put you through a regime of learning corrective thinking patterns; the idea is that if you change your cognition, change your pattern of thinking and behaving you would no longer respond with negative affects to what is going on in the world; you would have emotional equanimity.
I will provide some quotes from Epictetus at the end of this brief essay.
I could not find my copies of Epictetus’ books. As Epictetus would say, in contemporary language, I should not sweat small things.
I called Barnes and Nobles Book Store and asked them whether they have some of his books and they did, and I asked them to put them behind the cashier’s counter for me and I immediately drove over and bought them.
I got home and began reading the Discourse. I am in heaven if there is heaven. Reading philosophy is my idea of heaven, for it transports me to pure joy, bliss, really.
I did another thing that is blissful; two weeks ago, late at night I was watching TV and Time Life had a commercial it called Sweet 70s; it was 1970s Rhythm and Blues music; they gave a sampling of the music of the 70s superstars. I ordered the six CDs and it got to me on Saturday.
I went to college in the 1970s. I lived in a dormitory at the University of Oregon and would lie on my dorm bed listening to music (I was terribly lonely and black American music gave me a sense of connection to my people; I am totally identified with black Americans, those that our foolish ancestors sold into slavery).
As I read Epictetus, I have 1970s soul music playing in the background: the music of my college days, such as James Brown, Marvin Gay, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, Isaac Hayes, and the other immortal black soul singers.
I am now back to late teen years and age twenty-something, in college. It was a blessed era of my life (Muraya, my Kenyan college friend, I hear that you are dead, well, be happy with our ancestors, old boy, I wish that you are here to listen to this heavenly music as we used to do in my dorm room).
I have a question for you, my dear reader. Do you think that human beings can survive for a day without music? Given the harsh realities of human existence in an impersonal environment where no one looks out for them and they must struggle to survive, do you think that if there were no musicians and other artists (such as poets, painters, sculptors, architects’ writers etc.) that people could endure their existence? I know that I probably would not like to live if I did not have music around me.
As noted, I am currently listening to African American rhythm and blues music. It is melodious to my ears, but my head interprets it differently. My mind’s eyes see the herculean struggle of black Americans to survive in a land where they were dehumanized; my God, these folks were treated as rubbish. They were subjected to the worst degradation that human beings could be exposed to.
Their African language and names were taken away from them. They were beaten and flogged and treated worse than mules.
My God, just thinking about what these folks went through makes me want to cry, but crying does not change anything!
Their music is part of their efforts to cope with a world that treated them like they are worse than garbage. The pathos and suffering in their voices cannot be replicated by anyone who had not undergone their total humiliation degradation (Epictetus would say that humiliation is an interpretation, that one is humiliated if one thinks so, for what was meant to humiliate one could also elevate one…consider my response to racism, I see white folks as subhuman beings!).
Where was God when white folks were assaulting Africans in the new land? Does God even exist, or do we kid ourselves when we talk about God.
Before we become sentimental and blame the slave masters let me tell you that they, too, were slaves. It takes totally underdeveloped and depraved human beings to do to fellow human beings what these people did to black Americans. I believe that white men are savages and not yet human beings. If they were human beings, they would not have inflicted, and still inflict the pain they inflicted on African Americans (and go around pretending to be Christians).
What is self-evident to me is that music is part of the armament that enabled black Americans to survive their hash environment. Without their music and religion, they probably would have committed mass suicide?
Returning to me, I lived books. I went from dormitory to breakfast at the dining hall, then to classes and from classes to the library, then to the dining hall and ate and went back to the Library and when the library closed at 10: 30 PM, I went to the Student Union building, it closed at 12 AM, got me a cup of java, sat around, and talked to whoever I could talk to.
Then it is back to the dormitory, lay on bed and listen to music and went to sleep and got up in the morning, took shower, to the dining hall then to classes and the routine is repeated.
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I ran, at least, five miles each day, then played tennis, soccer, and swam. On Saturdays, I went to the college symphony orchestra, relaxed, and soaked in whatever classical artist’s offering they had (I have a complex life, I am an African who loves classical music, the music of the ruling white classes…some would say that I have Stockholm syndrome, except that I have loved classical music since I was a child!).
During Summer, it was off to Ashland, Oregon for two weeks attending Shakespearean plays (Hamlet, Macbeth, As You like It, Julius Caesar, King Lear etc.). Life was total joy!
Since philosophy is my cup of tea (if you enjoy philosophy see my writings on the major Western philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Descartes, Leibniz, David Hume, George Berkeley, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, John Mill, John Stuart Mill, Jean Jacque Rousseau, Voltaire, Blaise Pascal, Diderot, v Kant, Hegel, my beloved Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Henry Bergson, Karl Marx, William James, and others in my book called Ideas that changed the world).
Well, I am rereading Epictetus and felt an urge to share with my African brothers and sisters’ ideas from this fellow thinker.
Epictetus was a Greek slave from Hierapolis in Anatolia (in today’s Turkey). He served a Roman Patrician gentleman, a friend of Emperor Nero. As a Greek he could read and write and devoted his time to reading philosophy. When his master freed him, he returned to Greece, settled at Nicopolis on the Adriatic Coast of Greece, and established a school of philosophy. He taught stoic philosophy.
Stoicism was the major philosophy of Romans; Greeks indulged in epicureanism, sophism, and some Gnosticism (they got Gnosticism from India; Alexander and his entourage got to India in 300 BC; Greeks learned Hinduism and applied Greek rationalism to it and called it Gnosticism, pursuit of knowledge of God).
Stoicism was a befitting philosophy for Romans, for those folks were brutal folks. They spent most of their time at war, killing and getting killed and entertained themselves by watching gladiators killing themselves. You must be brutal to live in the Roman world.
Empires are not conquered with Gregorian chants, you know. You take land that does not belong to you with brute force and hold it with force; if you become weak those you appropriated the land from will take it back from you.
White Americans, too, had to be brutal and use guns to conquer the territory they now live on (it is now time for civilized souls like me to civilize the barbarians called white Americans, for, it is philosophers that always civilize the savages called normal human beings).
Stoicism says that life is what it is, ugly, so, do not cry over it. Do not cry over spilled milk. Do not worry about it, either.
Horus said Carpe diem, seize the day, do what you can do today for tomorrow we all will die, so why worry about tomorrow or death, do your best today. Doing your best in whatever line of work interests you is the definition of warrior. A warrior lives life to the fullest despite its apparent meaninglessness and pointlessness. Do not sit around complaining about how awful life is; if you must live then live fully engaged with an aspect of life and quit moaning about life’s obvious purposelessness.
Seneca, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Plinney, and the other Roman thinkers and literary writers such as Virgil (see his Aeneid), were stoics. They had what today we would call tough mindedness. They did not allow spilling of blood, death and dying to prevent them from eating good food.
“Ajuru uwa Nri”; life is awful, so are you going to stop eating because life is awful?
Today, have pleasure for tomorrow you will be eaten by worms! It is fair enough; you eat animals and worms, animals eat your body; you eat plants, and tomorrow your body becomes nutrients for plants; we recycle one part of nature to another.
By the way, what I am doing here is called philosophical realism, not the sentimentalism that Africans delude themselves with. Read philosophy, my man (ontology, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, beauty etc.) and become a sophisticated man of this world that nothing surprises you.
Epictetus tells us to harden our minds. Think dispassionately, non-sympathetically, objectively; Francis Bacon and the English would add, adopt empiricism and logical positivism as your approach to phenomenon; accept only the observable, accept the scientific method; all else is old women’s tale; and devote your mind to philosophical thinking, not the romantic stuff that sentimental folks indulge in (in Epictetus time, the term philosophy included what we now call the physical sciences and the social sciences).
Epictetus, despite been a slave, made the most of his life; he established a school and folks from all over the ancient world came to his school to study philosophy.
In old age he quit his school to take care of orphan children (those of us who are thinkers cannot tolerate the suffering of children; I often think about selling all I have and giving the money to orphanages to take care of orphaned children). He died at 80 (135 AD).
Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius (see his Meditations) and Platanus (see his Ennead) were probably the best thinkers that Rome produced.
Rome was not interested in what today we call intellectual pursuits but in political realism, using arms to conquer empires. Cicero and Seneca were reflective of Rome’s hard-nosed political culture. In their world it is either you killed, or you got killed; someone threw you into a den of lions and tigers and you fought your way out or got eaten by the predatory animals.
I could write a lot about Epictetus, but I am going to allow the man to speak for himself by appending quotations from him. I hope that by reading this piece and the quotations that follow, you transform your mind and make it a bit stoic in your thinking.
By nature, I am stoic, but formerly I am an existential philosopher and existential psychologist (read Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Karl Jasper, Martin Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and if you think that you have understood them then you have understood my unsentimental approach to the hash realities of our existence).
Somewhere, Epictetus observed (I could not find the exact quote, but he wrote it) that the individual’s best contribution to life inheres in his understanding his self. If you totally understand yourself, you have understood all human beings and that understanding is enough contribution to the well-being of mankind.
Wouldn’t you agree with Socrates and Epictetus that to know who you are, and by generalization who people are, is the greatest gift one could give to mankind?
I struggle to understand me and share that information with folks; my goal is to help folk to understand themselves. Would you say that I am a blessing to you or not?
Just look at Nigerians and Africans; they seldom engage in philosophical and psychological thinking hence do not understand themselves; the result is the royal mess they are making in governing their country and continent.
I wish that an African Plato would establish an academy where future African leaders are taught political philosophy (and practical administration). Plato wanted philosopher kings to rule the human polity. See Plato’s The Republic, also Aristotle’s Politics, Machiavelli’s Prince, Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, John Locke’s Second Treaty on Government and Karl Marx’s Der Capital…these are a must read for any one in politics.
March 23, 2021
HERE ARE SOME QUOTATIONS FROM EPICTETUS’ WRITINGS
The quotes were culled from the following books: Discourses, The Art of Living and The Manual and Enchiridion. Epictetus himself did not write books but one of his students called Arrian took notes from his lectures and published them as the afore mentioned books.
“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”
“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”
“Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are extremely helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.”
“First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.”
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for to refer your self-improvement to him? You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man. If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.
From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event. That is how Socrates fulfilled himself by attending to nothing except reason in everything he encountered. And you, although you are not yet a Socrates, should live as someone who at least wants to be a Socrates.”
“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master;
he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”
“He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.”
“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
“Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.”
“People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.”
“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.”
“Only the educated are free.”
“You are a little soul carrying around a corpse”
“To accuse others for one’s own misfortune is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete.”
“Remember, it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed. If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we do not respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control.”
“I laugh at those who think they can damage me. They do not know who I am, they do not know what I think, they cannot even touch the things which are really mine and with which I live.”
(First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.)”
“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.”
“Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”
“No man is free who is not master of himself.”
“Attach yourself to what is spiritually superior, regardless of what other people think or do. Hold to your true aspirations no matter what is going on around you.”
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not but rejoices for those which he has.”
“Seek not the good in external things; seek it in yourselves.”
“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests. ”
“Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.”
“Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people’s weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mobs who indulges in such pastimes. Your life is too short, and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind. If you yourself do not choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there’s no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap.”
“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You are not a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you will be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”
“Don’t seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.”
“Do not try to seem wise to others. ”
“Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
“If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it.”
“Small-minded people blame others. Average people blame themselves. The wise see all blame as foolishness”
“God has entrusted me with myself. No man is free who is not master of himself. A man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.”
“A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single
“Preach not to others what they should eat but eat as becomes you and be silent. ”
“You know yourself what you are worth in your own eyes; and at what price you will sell yourself. For men sell themselves at various prices. Therefore, when Florus was deliberating whether he should appear at Nero’s shows, taking part in the performance himself, Agrippinus replied, ‘Appear.’ And when Florus inquired, ‘But why do not you appear?’ he answered, ‘Because I do not even consider the question.’ For the man who has once stooped to consider such questions, and to reckon up the value of external things, is not far from forgetting what manner of man he is.”
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you are not harmed.”
“If you would be a reader, read; if a writer, write.”
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid regarding external things. Do not wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external things. But while you are careful about the one, you must neglect the other”
“If you wish to be a writer, write.”
“I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment?”
“Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. It is not to be found in your personal associations, nor can it be found in the regard of other people. It is a fact of life that other people, even people who love you, will not necessarily agree with your ideas, understand you, or share your enthusiasms. Grow up! Who cares what other people think about you!”
“You become what you give your attention to.”
“If you would cure anger, do not feed it. Say to yourself: ‘I used to be angry every day; then every other day; now only every third or fourth day.’ When you reach thirty days offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the gods.”
“Asked, who is the rich man? Epictetus replied, “He who is content.”
“These reasonings are unconnected: “I am richer than you, therefore I am better”; “I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better.” The connection is rather this: “I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;” “I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor style.”
“It is better to die of hunger having lived without grief and fear, than to live with a troubled spirit, amid abundance”
“Men are not afraid of things, but of how they view them.”
“Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task.”
“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to.”
“Even as the Sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to
rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so, thou also wait
not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty;
nay, do good of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like the
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
“It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous — even death is terrible only if we fear it.”
“Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Therefore, give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths. Remain steadfast…and one day you will build something that endures: something worthy of your potential.”
“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things. Thus, death is nothing terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death, that it is terrible. When, therefore, we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved let us never impute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own views. It is the action of an uninstructed person to reproach others for his own misfortunes; of one entering upon instruction, to reproach himself; and of one perfectly instructed, to reproach neither others nor himself.”
“No great thing is created suddenly.”
“So, you wish to conquer in the Olympic Games, my friend? And I, too… But first mark the conditions and the consequences. You will have to put yourself under discipline; to eat by rule, to avoid cakes and sweetmeats; to take exercise at the appointed hour whether you like it or not, in cold and heat; to abstain from cold drinks and wine at your will. Then, in the conflict itself you are likely enough to dislocate your wrist or twist your ankle, to swallow a great deal of dust, to be severely thrashed, and after all these things, to be defeated.”
“If you want to make progress, put up with being perceived as ignorant or naive in worldly matters, don’t aspire to a reputation for sagacity. If you do impress others as somebody, do not altogether believe it. You must realize, it is not easy to keep your will in agreement with nature, as well as externals. Caring about the one inevitably means you are going to shortchange the other.”
“Remember to act always as if you were at a symposium. When the food or drink comes around, reach out and take some politely; if it passes you by do not try pulling it back. And if it has not reached you yet, do not let your desire run ahead of you, be patient until your turn comes. Adopt a similar attitude about children, wife, wealth, and status, and in time, you will be entitled to dine with the gods. Go further and decline these goods even when they are on offer and you will have a share in the gods’ power as well as their company. That is how Diogenes, Heraclitus, and philosophers like them came to be called, and considered, divine.”
“An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself.”
“-…. when things seem to have reached that stage, merely say “I won’t play any longer”, and take your departure; but if you stay, stop lamenting.”
“Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas.”
“Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one
that is longer but of less account!”
“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”
“You may fetter my leg, but Zeus himself cannot get the better of my free will.”
“It is unrealistic to expect people to see you as you see yourself.”
“Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may
hear from others twice as much as we speak.”
“Control thy passions lest they take vengeance on thee. ~ Epictetus”
“No person is free who is not master of himself.”
“On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.”
“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of men’s desires, but by the removal of desire.”
“If someone speaks badly of you, do not defend yourself against the accusations, but reply; “you obviously do not know about my other vices, otherwise you would have mentioned these as well”
“-Who are those people by whom you wish to be admired? Are they not these whom you are in the habit of saying that they are mad? What then? Do you wish to be admired by the mad?”
“If any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone. For God hath made all men to enjoy felicity and constancy of good.”
“A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings him back to the right path—he does not mock and jeer at him and then take himself off. You also must show the unlearned man the truth, and you will see that he will follow. But so long as you do not show it him, you should not mock, but rather feel your own incapacity.
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid regarding external things. Don’t wish to be thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself.”
“The first and most important field of philosophy is the application of principles such as “Do not lie.” Next come the proofs, such as why we should not lie. The third field supports and articulates the proofs, by asking, for example, “How does this prove it? What exactly is a proof, what is logical inference, what is contradiction, what is truth, what is falsehood?” Thus, the third field is necessary because of the second, and the second because of the first. The most important, though, the one that should occupy most of our time, is the first. But we do just the opposite. We are preoccupied with the third field and give that all our attention, passing the first by altogether. The result is that we lie – but have no difficulty proving why we shouldn’t.”
“Difficulty shows what men are.”
“Whoever is going to listen to the philosophers needs a considerable practice in listening.”
“There is but one way to tranquility of mind and happiness, and that is to account no external things thine own, but to commit all to God.”
“It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly.”
“When a youth was giving himself airs in the Theatre and saying, ‘I am wise, for I have conversed with many wise men,’ Epictetus replied, ‘I too have conversed with many rich men, yet I am not rich!’.”
“The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.”
“Do not afflict others with anything that you yourself would not wish to suffer. if you would not like to be a slave, make sure no one is your slave. If you have slaves, you yourself are the greatest slave, for just as freedom is incompatible with slavery, so goodness is incompatible with hypocrisy.”
“We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.”
“What would have become of Hercules do you think if there had been no lion, hydra, stag or boar – and no savage criminals to rid the world of? What would he have done in the absence of such challenges?
Obviously he would have just rolled over in bed and gone back to sleep. So, by snoring his life away in luxury and comfort he never would have developed into the mighty Hercules.
And even if he had, what good would it have done him? What would have been the use of those arms, that physique, and that noble soul, without crises or conditions to stir into him action?”
“Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public.”
“It is better to do wrong seldom and to own it, and to act right for the most part, than seldom to admit that you have done wrong and to do wrong often.”
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