Epictetus, Discourses

LCL 218: 168-169

Go To Section
Go To Section


ναί· καὶ ἀρχῶν καὶ τιμῶν. τί οὖν αὐτῷ τούτων μέλει; ὅταν οὖν τις διὰ τούτων αὐτὸν ἐκφοβῇ, λέγει αὐτῷ “ὕπαγε, ζήτει τὰ παιδία· ἐκείνοις τὰ προσωπεῖα φοβερά ἐστιν, ἐγὼ δ᾿ οἶδα, ὅτι ὀστράκινά ἐστιν, ἔσωθεν δὲ οὐδὲν ἔχει.”

107Περὶ τοιούτου πράγματος βουλεύῃ. ὥστε ἐάν σοι δόξῃ, τὸν θεόν σοι, ὑπέρθου καὶ ἰδού σοι 108πρῶτον τὴν παρασκευήν. ἰδοὺ γάρ, τί καὶ ὁ Ἕκτωρ λέγει τῇ Ἀνδρομάχῃ· “ὕπαγε,” φησίν, “μᾶλλον εἰς οἶκον καὶ ὕφαινε·

πόλεμος δ᾿ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει πᾶσι, μάλιστα δ᾿ ἐμοί.”1

109οὕτως καὶ τῆς ἰδίας παρασκευῆς συνῄσθετο καὶ τῆς ἐκείνης ἀδυναμίας.

κγ΄. Πρὸς τοὺς ἀναγιγνώσκοντας καὶ διαλεγομένους ἐπιδεικτικῶς.

1Τίς εἶναι θέλεις, σαυτῷ πρῶτον εἰπέ· εἶθ᾿ οὕτως ποίει ἃ ποιεῖς. καὶ γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων 2σχεδὸν ἁπάντων οὕτως ὁρῶμεν γινόμενα. οἱ ἀθλοῦντες πρῶτον κρίνουσιν, τίνες εἶναι θέλουσιν, εἶθ᾿ οὕτως τὰ ἑξῆς ποιοῦσιν. εἰ δολιχοδρόμος, τοιαύτη τροφή, τοιοῦτος περίπατος, τοιαύτη τρῖψις, τοιαύτη γυμνασία· εἰ σταδιοδρόμος, πάντα ταῦτα ἀλλοῖα· εἰ πένταθλος, ἔτι ἀλλοιότερα.


Book III.23

Certainly; and of his offices and honours. Why, then, does he pay any attention to these? So when anyone tries to terrify him by means of these things, he says to him, “Go to, look for children; they are scared by masks; but I know that they are made of earthenware, and have nothing inside.”

Such is the nature of the matter about which you are deliberating. Wherefore, in the name of God I adjure you, put off your decision, and look first at your endowment. For see what Hector says to Andromache. “Go,” says he, “rather into the house and weave;

but for men shall war be the business, Men one and all, and mostly for me.”1

So did he recognize not only his own special endowment, but also her incapacity.

Chapter XXIII

To those who read and discuss for the purpose of display

Tell yourself, first of all, what kind of man you want to be; and then go ahead with what you are doing. For in practically every other pursuit we see this done. The athletes first decide what kind of athletes they want to be, and then they act accordingly. If a man wants to be a distance-runner, he adopts a suitable diet, walking, rubbing, and exercise; if he wants to be a sprinter, all these details are different; if he wants to contend in the pentathlon, they are still more different

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.epictetus-discourses.1925