Epictetus - Quotations

 

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 own  actions.
-- Epictetus, Enchiridion (55-135b.c.)

 

Through this kinship with the flesh, some of us inclining to it become like wolves, faithless and treacherous and mischievous: some become like lions, savage and untamed; but the greater part of us become foxes and other worse animals. For what else is a slanderer and a malignant man than a fox, or some other more wretched and meaner animal? See, then, and take
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

For it is always true that to whatever point the perfecting of anything leads us, progress is an approach toward this point.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

Because the gods have given the vine, or wheat, we sacrifice to them: but because they have produced in the human mind that fruit by which they designed to show us the truth which relates to happiness, shall we not thank God for this?
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

From everything which is or happens in the world, it is easy to praise Providence, if a man possesses these two qualities, the faculty of seeing what belongs and happens to all persons and things, and a grateful disposition. If he does not possess these two qualities, one man will not see the use of things which are and which happen; another will not be thankful for them, even if he does know them.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

But God has introduced man to be a  spectator of God and of His works; and not only a spectator of them, but an interpreter. For this reason it is shameful for man to begin and to end where irrational animals do, but rather he ought to begin where they begin, and to end where nature ends in us; and nature ends in contemplation and understanding, in a way of life conformable to nature. Take care then not to die without having been spectators of these things.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

For what is the end proposed in reasoning? To establish true propositions, to remove the false, to withhold assent from those which are not plain.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

where a man is against his will, there he is in prison.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

for as to intelligence you are not inferior to the gods nor less; for the magnitude of intelligence is not measured by length nor yet by height, but by thoughts.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

I do not care. "I will show you that I am master." You cannot do that. Zeus has set me free: do you think that he intended to allow his own son to be enslaved?
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

Epaphroditus had a shoemaker whom he sold because he was good for nothing. This fellow by some good luck was bought by one of Caesar's men, and became Caesar's shoemaker. You should have seen what respect Epaphroditus paid to him: "How does the good Felicion do, I pray?" Then if any of us asked, "What is master doing?" the answer "He is consulting about something with Felicion." Had he not sold the man as good for nothing? Who then made him wise all at once? This is an instance of valuing something else than the things which depend on the will.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

What then is education? Education is the learning how to adapt the natural precognitions to the particular things conformably to nature; and then to distinguish that of things some are in our power, but others are not; in our power are will and all acts which depend on the will; things not in our power are the body, the parts of the body, possessions, parents, brothers, children, country, and, generally, all with whom we live in society.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

Not death is evil, but a shameful death. Confidence then ought to be employed against death, and caution against the fear of death. But now we do the contrary, and employ against death the attempt to escape; and to our opinion about it we employ carelessness, rashness and indifference. These things Socrates properly used to call "tragic masks"; for as to children masks appear terrible and fearful from inexperience, we also are affected in like manner by events for no other reason than children are by masks. For what is a child? Ignorance. What is a child? Want of knowledge. For when a child knows these things, he is in no way inferior to us. What is death? A "tragic mask." Turn it and examine it. See, it does not bite. The poor body must be separated from the spirit either now or later, as it was separated from it before. Why, then, are you troubled, if it be separated now? for if it is not separated now, it will be separated afterward. Why? That the period of the universe may be completed, for it has need of the present, and of the future, and of the past. What is pain? A mask. Turn it and examine it. The poor flesh is moved roughly, then, on the contrary, smoothly. If this does not satisfy you, the door is open: if it does, bear. For the door ought to be open for all occasions; and so we have no trouble. What then is the fruit of these opinions? It is that which ought to he the most noble and the most becoming to those who are really educated, release from perturbation, release from fear, freedom. For in these matters we must not believe the many, who say that free persons only ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers, who say that the educated only are free.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

God is beneficial. But the Good also is beneficial. It is consistent then that where the nature of God is, there also the nature of the good should be. What then is the nature of God? Flesh? Certainly not. An estate in land? By no means. Fame? No. Is it intelligence, knowledge, right reason? Yes. Herein then simply seek the nature of the good; for I suppose that you do not seek it in a plant. No. Do you seek it in an irrational animal? No. If then you seek it in a rational animal, why do you still seek it anywhere except in the superiority of rational over irrational animals? Now plants have not even the power
of using appearances, and for this reason you do not apply the term good to them. The good then requires the use of appearances. Does it require this use only? For if you say that it requires this use only, say that the good, and that happiness and unhappiness are in irrational animals also. But you do not say this, and you do right; for if they possess even in the highest degree the use of appearances, yet they have not the faculty of understanding the use of appearances; and there is good reason for this, for they exist for the purpose of serving others, and they exercise no superiority. For the ass, I suppose, does not exist for any superiority over others. No; but because we had need of a back which is able to bear something; and in truth we had need also of his being able to walk, and for this reason he received also the faculty of making use of appearances, for otherwise he would not have been able to walk. And here then the matter stopped. For if he had also received the faculty of comprehending the use of appearances, it is plain that consistently with reason he would not then have been subjected to us, nor would he have done us these services, but he would have been equal to us and like to us.

Will you not then seek the nature of good in the rational animal? for if it is not there, you not choose to say that it exists in any other thing. "What then? are not plants and animals also the works of God?" They are; but they are not superior things, nor yet parts of the Gods. But you are a superior thing; you are a portion separated from the deity; you have in yourself a certain portion of him. Why then are you ignorant of your own noble descent? Why do you not know whence you came? will you not remember when you are eating, who you are who eat and whom you feed? When you are in conjunction with a woman, will you not remember who you are who do this thing? When you are in social intercourse, when you are exercising yourself, when you are engaged in discussion, know you not that you are nourishing a god, that you are exercising a god? Wretch, you are carrying about a god with you, and you know it not. Do you think that I mean some God of silver or of gold, and external? You carry him within yourself, and you perceive not that you are polluting him by impure thoughts and dirty deeds. -- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

Irrevocable is my word and shall not fail. Such will I show myself to you, faithful, modest, noble, free from perturbation. "What, and immortal too, exempt from old age, and from sickness?" No, but dying as becomes a god, sickening as becomes a god. This power I possess; this I can do. But the rest I do not possess, nor can I do. I will show the nerves of a philosopher. "What nerves are these?" A desire never disappointed, an  version which never falls on that which it would avoid, a proper pursuit, a diligent purpose, an assent which is not rash. These you shall see.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

Consider who you are. In the first place, you are a man; and this is one who has nothing superior to the faculty of the will, but all other things subjected to it; and the faculty itself he possesses unenslaved and free from subjection. Consider then from what things you have been separated by reason. You have been separated from wild beasts: you have been separated from domestic animals. Further, you are a citizen of the world, and a part of it, not one of the subservient, but one of the principal parts, for you are capable of  comprehending the divine administration and of considering the connection of things.
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135b.c.)

 

If I am, then death is not. If death is... then I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do? Epicurius

 

And though you are not yet a Socrates, you ought, however, to live as one desirous of becoming a Socrates.
-- Epictetus, Enchiridion (55-135b.c.)

 

"What then is the fruit of these opinions? It is that which ought to he the most noble and the most becoming to those who are really educated, release from perturbation, release from fear, freedom. For in these matters we must not believe the many, who say that free persons only ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers, who say that the educated only are free."
-- Epictetus, The Discourses (55-135a.d.)