The Golden Sayings of Epictetus by Epictetus

By Epictetus

Choices from the writings of the Greek Stoic thinker Epictetus, compiled and translated through Hastings Crossley.

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What then have I to do? I do the only thing that remains to me--to be drowned without fear, without a cry, without upbraiding God, but knowing that what has been born must likewise perish. For I am not Eternity, but a human being--a part of the whole, as an hour is part of the day. I must come like the hour, and like the hour must pass! CLXXXVII And now we are sending you to Rome to spy out the land; but none send a coward as such a spy, that, if he hear but a noise and see a shadow moving anywhere, loses his wits and comes flying to say, The enemy are upon us!

Why thus unreasonable? "--What, are they then thine, and not His that gave them--His that made thee? Give up then that which is not thine own: yield it to One who is better than thou. "--If it suits thee not, depart! He hath no need of a spectator who finds fault with his lot! Them that will take part in the Feast he needeth--that will lift their voices with the rest that men may applaud the more, and exalt the Great Assembly in hymns and songs of praise. But the wretched and the fearful He will not be displeased to see absent from it: for when they were present, they did not behave as at a Feast, nor fulfil their proper office; but moaned as though in pain, and found fault with their fate, their fortune and their companions; insensible to what had fallen to their lot, insensible to the powers they had received for a very different purpose--the powers of Magnanimity, Nobility of Heart, of Fortitude, or Freedom!

You ask. That you may prove the victor at the Great Games. Yet without toil and sweat this may not be! CLVIII If thou wouldst make progress, be content to seem foolish and void of understanding with respect to outward things. Care not to be thought to know anything. If any should make account of thee, distrust thyself. CLIX Remember that in life thou shouldst order thy conduct as at a banquet. Has any dish that is being served reached thee? Stretch forth thy hand and help thyself modestly. Doth it pass thee by?

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