Epictetus, Discourses

LCL 131: 126-127

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μελαγχολῶν; τί ἐν ὕπνοις; οὗτός μοί ἐστιν ὁ ἀνίκητος ἀθλητής.

ιθ΄. Πῶς ἔχειν δεῖ πρὸς τοὺς τυράννους;

1Ὅτι ἄν τινι προσῇ τι πλεονέκτημα ἢ δοκῇ γε προσεῖναι μὴ προσόν, τοῦτον πᾶσα ἀνάγκη, ἐὰν 2ἀπαίδευτος ᾖ, πεφυσῆσθαι δι᾿ αὐτό. εὐθὺς ὁ τύραννος λέγει “ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ πάντων κράτιστος.” καὶ τί μοι δύνασαι παρασχεῖν; ὄρεξίν μοι δύνασαι περιποιῆσαι ἀκώλυτον; πόθεν σοι; σὺ γὰρ ἔχεις; ἔκκλισιν 3ἀπερίπτωτον; σὺ γὰρ ἔχεις; ὁρμὴν ἀναμάρτητον; καὶ ποῦ σοι μέτεστιν; ἄγε, ἐν νηὶ δὲ σαυτῷ θαρρεῖς ἢ τῷ 4εἰδότι; ἐπὶ δ᾿ ἅρματος τίνι ἢ τῷ εἰδότι; τί δ᾿ ἐν ταῖς ἄλλαις τέχναις; ὡσαύτως. τί οὖν δύνασαι; “πάντες με θεραπεύουσιν.” καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ τὸ πινάκιον θεραπεύω καὶ πλύνω αὐτὸ καὶ ἐκμάσσω καὶ τῆς ληκύθου ἕνεκα πάσσαλον πήσσω. τί οὖν; ταῦτά μου κρείττονά ἐστιν; οὔ· ἀλλά χρείαν μοι παρέχει τινά. ταύτης οὖν ἕνεκα 5θεραπεύω αὐτά. τί δέ; τὸν ὄνον οὐ θεραπεύω; οὐ νίπτω αὐτοῦ τοὺς πόδας; οὐ περικαθαίρω; οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι πᾶς


Book I.19

is, what if he be drunk? What if he be melancholy-mad?60 What if asleep? The man who passes all these tests is what I mean by the invincible athlete.

19. How ought we to bear ourselves toward tyrants?

If a man possesses some superiority, or thinks at least that he does, even thought he does not, it is quite unavoidable that this man, if he is uneducated, becomes puffed up on account of it. For example, the tyrant exclaims, “I am the mightiest in the world.” Very well, what can you do for me? Can you secure for me desire that is free from any hindrance? How can you? Do you have it yourself? Can you secure for me aversion proof against encountering what it would avoid? Do you have it yourself? Or infallible choice? And where can you claim a share in that? Come, when you are on board ship, do you feel confidence in yourself, or in the skilled navigator? And when you are in a chariot, in whom do you feel confidence other than the skilled driver. And how is it in the other arts? The same way. What does your power amount to, then? “All men pay attention61 to me.” Yes, and I pay attention to my little plate and wash it and wipe it out, and for the sake of my oil-flask I drive a peg in the wall. What follows, then? Are these things superior to me? No, but they render me some service, and therefore I pay attention to them. Again, do I not pay attention to my donkey? Do I not wash his feet? Do I not curry him? Do you not know that every man pays attention

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.epictetus-discourses.1925