The Philosophy of Epictetus

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THE PHILOSOPHY, OF EPICTETUS, John Bonforte,PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY. NEW YORK, Copyright 1955 by, PHILOSOPHICAL LIBRARY INC . 15 East 40th Street New York N Y ,Printed in the United States of America. A ship ought not to be held by a single anchor , nor life by a single hope e p i c t e t u s. Preface, H ist o r y, T h e r e a r e few known facts about Epictetus Even his.
real name is unknown The name Epictetus means Ac , quired in Greek It is believed that he was bom at Hier . apolis in Phrygia about 75 miles west of Angora Turkey . between 50 and 60 a d , As a boy he was a slave but he managed to attend the. lectures of the Stoic philosopher Rufus He was probably. taken to Rome when he was a young man where he was. the slave of Epaphroditus , It is told that when his master once put his leg in a. torture his philosophic slave quietly remarked You. will break my leg When this happened he added in,the same tone Did I not tell you so . Whether this story is true or not certain it is that in. later life Epictetus suffered from extreme lameness . Eventually he became free and lived very frugally. in Rome teaching philosophy When Emperor Domitian, banished the philosophers from Rome in 90 a d Epic .
tetus retired to Nicopolis in Epirus in the northwestern. part of modem Greece on the shore of the Ionian Sea . where he taught philosophy as before , After Hadrian became emperor 117 a d Epictetus. viii Preface, was treated with favor but he probably did not return to. Rome The exact date of his death is not known , Epictetus actually wrote none of his own philosophy . The entire record that we have of his thoughts are from. the notes taken by one of his pupils named Arrian . Arrian divided the Discourses of Epictetus into eight. books In addition he wrote an Encheiridion or manual . containing many of the maxims of Epictetus To these are. usually added a number of sayings which are usually. ascribed to Epictetus A letter that Arrian wrote to Lucius. Gellius briefly describing the Discourses of Epictetus is. appended at the end of this preface , T r a n s l a t io n. The last four books of the Discourses have been lost. and have never been found The four remaining books. and the Encheiridion were translated from Greek into. English in 1758 by Elizabeth Carter bom in 1717 died. 1806 Mrs Carters translation was rewritten in 1865 by. Thomas Wentworth Higginson It is Mr Higginsons, translation which I have used in writing this book .
The following is a quotation from the preface of Mr . Higginson s book , I hesitated for some time whether to call this book. simply a revision of Elizabeth Carter s translation or a. new one based on hers The latter alternative was finally. chosen less in order to claim for myself any credit of. hers than to save her from sharing any discredit of. mine The enterprise was begun simply as a revision . But to revise any translation made a century ago is like. underrunning a telegraphic cable one may inspect a. good deal of it and find but trifling repairs needful . and then one may come to a point where a wholly new. piece must go in These substitutions multiplied so. rapidly and even where the changes were slight they. Preface ix, touched words and phrases so vital that the name I. have chosen is really the least dishonest that could be. Newport R I 1865 Thomas Wentworth Higginson , P r e s e n t V e r s io n. I quote this preface of Mr Higginson because it ex . presses some of my own thoughts in presenting this book. to the reader However I can make no claim of present . ing a better translation of the Discourses of Epictetus . because I am no Greek scholar in fact I know not a. single word of Greek , My only excuse for offering this version of the Dis . courses is to give the present day hurried reader an. opportunity of reading the philosophy of Epictetus with. a minimum of effort , I started out with the intention of simply grouping the.
thoughts contained in the Discourses into chapters under. suitable headings eliminating duplications and other. subject matter not related to the chapter heading but. without changing a single word of die Discourses as. translated by Mr Higginson , After the Discourses had been divided up into chapters. according to the respective subject matter of each it. appeared to me that the meaning of certain passages. could be brought out better by substituting a word here. and another word there , In addition when the material for each chapter was. all gathered together it became necessary to introduce. a few words or a sentence to bind the various parts into. a single unit , The taking of one liberty led to another until like Mr . Higginson before me I found that I had something very. different than my predecessor Therefore while I ac . X Preface, knowledge using Mr Higginson s translation I accept the. responsibility for presenting this book as it is , To those Greek Scholars and admirers of Epictetus .
who may read this book I ask their tolerance This book. is not concerned with words literally translated but with. thoughts My aim has been to reproduce the thoughts of. Epictetus as I understand them in plain simple English . and in systematic order , P h il o s o p h y, There is an apparent similarity between the philosophy. of Epictetus and that of Jesus Christ While Epictetus. lived at a slightly later period than Jesus it appears fairly. certain that Epictetus never came into contact with any. of the Christian teachers or with the philosophy that they. From Epictetus s own words we know that his great. heroes were Socrates and Diogenes especially the for . mer The outstanding qualities of Epictetus s philosophy. 1 The home spun quality of its thought , 2 The avoidance of abstract metaphysical generalities . 3 Its high ethical character , 4 The single mindedness of its Stoic thought . A r r ia n, As there would be no Discourses of Epictetus without. Arrian a brief biographical sketch of this student of Epic . tetus seems necessary Arrians full name was Flavius. Arrianus He was bom of Greek parents in Nicomedia, about 50 miles east of Istanbul on the shore of the Sea of.
Marmara about 96 a d The Romans appointed him, Governor of Cappadocia a district in eastern Turkey . Asia Minor bordering on the Black Sea and about the. size of modem Portugal This appointment was the first. Preface xi, important military command given to a Greek by the. Romans Arrian was also an historian and a philosopher . He died about 180 , To the reader I suggest that this book be read slowly . preferably one chapter at a time Like fine old mellowed. wine it should be imbibed slowly in order to derive the. most benefit from it , J oh n B o n fo rte,Pueblo Colorado. August 28 1954, Letter o f Arrian, Arrian To Lucius Gellius.
Wisheth All Happiness, I n e i t h e r 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 what . ever 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 nat . urally deliver from his own thoughts extempore to an . other 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 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 pro . xiv Letter of Arrian, nounced them his audience could not help being affected. in the very manner he intended they should If by them . selves his Discourses have less efficacy perhaps it is my. fault or perhaps it is unavoidable , The Philosophy o f Epictetus. G o d s a y s to me Epictetus if it had been possible I. would have made this little body and property of thine . free and not liable to hindrance And now make no mis . take it is not thy own but only a finer mixture of clay . Since then I could not give thee this I have given. thee a certain portion of Myself the faculty of exerting. the powers of pursuits and avoidances of desires and aver . sions in a word the use of your Will , Take care of it and make what is thy own to consist.
in this thou wilt never be restrained never be hindered . thou wilt not groan wilt not complain wilt not flatter any. Do all these advantages seem small to thee Heaven. forbid Let them suffice thee then and thank God , some affirm that there is no Deity . C o n c e r n in g G o d , others that He indeed exists but is slothful negligent and. without providential care a third class admits both His. being and His providence but only in respect to great and. heavenly objects not earthly a fourth recognizes Him both. in heaven and earth but only in general not individual. Epictetus actually wrote none of his own philosophy The entire record that we have of his thoughts are from the notes taken by one of his pupils named Arrian Arrian divided the Discourses of Epictetus into eight books In addition he wrote an Encheiridion or manual containing many of the maxims of Epictetus To these are

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