Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XX.: THAT SOME ADVANTAGE MAY BE GAINED FROM EVERY OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCE. - The Works of Epictetus. Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, The Enchiridion, and Fragments
CHAPTER XX.: THAT SOME ADVANTAGE MAY BE GAINED FROM EVERY OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCE. - Epictetus, The Works of Epictetus. Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, The Enchiridion, and Fragments [100 AD]
The Works of Epictetus. Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, The Enchiridion, and Fragments. A Translation from the Greek based on that of Elizabeth Carter, by Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1865).
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- The Discourses of Epictetus.
- Arrian to Lucius Gellius Wisheth All Happiness.
- Book I.
- Chapter I.: Of the Things Which Are, and the Things Which Are Not In Our Own Power.
- Chapter II.: In What Manner, Upon Every Occasion, to Preserve Our Character.
- Chapter III.: How, From the Doctrine That God Is the Father of Mankind, We May Proceed to Its Consequences.
- Chapter IV: Of Progress.
- Chapter V.: Concerning the Academics. †
- Chapter VI.: Of Providence.
- Chapter VII.: Of the Use of the Forms of Right Reasoning.
- Chapter VIII.: That Logical Subtleties Are Not Safe to the Uninstructed.
- Chapter IX.: How From the Doctrine of Our Relationship to God, We Are to Deduce Its Consequences.
- Chapter X.: Concerning Those Who Seek Preferment At Rome.
- Chapter XI.: Of Natural Affection.
- Chapter XII.: Of Contentment.
- Chapter XIII.: How Everything May Be Performed to the Divine Acceptance.
- Chapter XIV.: That All Things Are Under the Divine Supervision.
- Chapter XV.: What Philosophy Promises.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Providence.
- Chapter XVII.: That the Art of Reasoning Is Necessary.
- Chapter XVIII.: That We Ought Not to Be Angry With the Erring.
- Chapter XIX.: Of the Right Treatment of Tyrants.
- Chapter XX.: In What Manner Reason Contemplates Itself.
- Chapter XXI.: Of the Desire of Admiration.
- Chapter XXII.: Of General Principles.
- Chapter XXIII.: Against Epicurus.
- Chapter XXIV.: How We Ought to Struggle With Difficulties.
- Chapter XXV.: On the Same Subject.
- Chapter XXVI.: What the Rule of Life Is.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of the Varied Appearances of Things to the Mind, and What Means Are At Hand By Which to Regulate Them.
- Chapter XXVIII.: That We Ought Not to Be Angry With Mankind. What Things Are Little, What Great, Among Men.
- Chapter XXIX.: Of Courage.
- Chapter XXX.: Weapons Ready For Difficult Occasions.
- Book II.
- Chapter I.: That Courage Is Not Inconsistent With Caution.
- Chapter II.: Of Tranquillity.
- Chapter III.: Concerning Such As Recommend Persons to the Philosophers
- Chapter IV.: Concerning a Man Who Had Been Guilty of Adultery.
- Chapter V.: How Nobleness of Mind May Be Consistent With Prudence.
- Chapter VI.: Of Circumstances. *
- Chapter VII.: Of Divination.
- Chapter VIII.: Wherein Consists the Essence of Good.
- Chapter IX.: That Some Persons, Failing to Fulfil What the Character of a Man Implies, Assume That of a Philosopher.
- Chapter X.: How We May Infer the Duties of Life From Its Nominal Functions.
- Chapter XI.: The Beginning of Philosophy.
- Chapter XII.: Of Disputation.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Anxiety.
- Chapter XIV.: Concerning Naso.
- Chapter XV.: Concerning Those Who Obstinately Persist In Whatever They Have Determined.
- Chapter XVI.: That We Do Not Study to Make Use of the Established Principles Concerning Good and Evil.
- Chapter XVII.: How to Apply General Principles to Particular Cases.
- Chapter XVIII.: How the Semblances of Things Are to Be Combated.
- Chapter XIX.: Concerning Those Who Embrace Philosophy Only In Words.
- Chapter XX.: Concerning the Epicureans and Academics.
- Chapter XXI.: Of Inconsistency.
- Chapter XXII.: Of Friendship.
- Chapter XXIII.: Of Eloquence.
- Chapter XXIV.: Concerning a Person Whom He Treated With Disregard.
- Chapter XXV.: That Logic Is Necessary.
- Chapter XXVI.: What Is the Test of Error.
- Book III.
- Chapter I.: Of Personal Adornment.
- Chapter II.: In What a Well-trained Man Should Exercise Himself; and That We Neglect the Principal Things.
- Chapter III.: What Is the Chief Concern of a Good Man; and In What We Chiefly Ought to Train Ourselves.
- Chapter IV.: Concerning One Who Made Himself Improperly Conspicuous In the Theatre.
- Chapter V.: Concerning Those Who Plead Sickness.
- Chapter VI.: Miscellaneous.
- Chapter VII.: Concerning a Certain Governor Who Was an Epicurean.
- Chapter VIII.: How We Are to Exercise Ourselves Against the Semblances of Things.
- Chapter IX.: Concerning a Certain Orator, Who Was Going to Rome On a Lawsuit.
- Chapter X.: In What Manner We Ought to Bear Sickness.
- Chapter XI.: Miscellaneous.
- Chapter XII.: Of Training.
- Chapter XIII.: What Solitude Is; and What a Solitary Person.
- Chapter XIV.: Miscellaneous.
- Chapter XV. *: That Everything Is to Be Undertaken With Circumspection.
- Chapter XVI.: That Caution Should Be Used, As to Personal Familiarity.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Providence.
- Chapter XVIII.: That We Ought Not to Be Alarmed, By Any News That Is Brought Us.
- Chapter XIX.: What Is the Comparative Condition of the Philosopher, and of the Crowd.
- Chapter XX.: That Some Advantage May Be Gained From Every Outward Circumstance.
- Chapter XXI.: Concerning Those Who Readily Set Up For Sophists.
- Chapter XXII.: Of the Cynic Philosophy.
- Chapter XXIII.: Concerning Such As Read and Dispute Ostentatiously.
- Chapter XXIV.: That We Ought Not to Be Affected By Things Not In Our Own Power.
- Chapter XXV.: Concerning Those Who Waver In Their Purpose.
- Chapter XXVI.: Concerning Those Who Are In Dread of Want.
- Book IV.
- Chapter I.: Of Freedom.
- Chapter II.: Of Complaisance.
- Chapter III.: What Things Are to Be Exchanged For Others.
- Chapter IV.: Concerning Those Who Earnestly Desire a Life of Repose.
- Chapter V.: Concerning the Quarrelsome and Ferocious.
- Chapter VI.: Concerning Those Who Are Annoyed At Being Pitied.
- Chapter VII.: Of Fearlessness.
- Chapter VIII.: Concerning Such As Hastily Assume the Philosophic Dress.
- Chapter IX.: Concerning a Person Who Had Grown Immodest.
- Chapter X.: What Things We Are to Despise, and What Chiefly to Value.
- Chapter XI.: Of Purity.
- Chapter XII.: Of Taking Pains.
- Chapter XIII.: Concerning Such As Are Too Communicative.
- The Enchiridion, Or Manual.
- Part I
- From StobÆus, Antonius, and Maximus. *
- The Following Fragments Are Ascribed Jointly to Epictetus and Other Authors.
- The Following Fragments Are Omitted By Mr. Upton; But As They Stand Under the Name of Arrian, and Seem to Be In the Spirit of Epictetus, They Are Added Here.
THAT SOME ADVANTAGE MAY BE GAINED FROM EVERY OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCE.
IN considering sensible phenomena, almost all persons admit good and evil to lie in ourselves and not in externals. No one says it is good to be day; evil to be night; and the greatest evil that three should be four; but what? That knowledge is good and error evil. Even in connection with falsehood itself there may be one good thing; the knowledge that it is falsehood. Thus, then, should it be in life also. “Health is a good; sickness an evil.” No, sir. But what? A right use of health is a good; a wrong one, an evil. So that, in truth, it is possible to be a gainer even by sickness. And is it not possible by death too? By mutilation? Do you think Menæceus an inconsiderable gainer by death? “May whoever talks thus be such a gainer as he was!” Why, pray, sir, did not he preserve his patriotism, his magnanimity, his fidelity, his gallant spirit? And, if he had lived on, would he not have lost all these? Would not cowardice, baseness, and hatred of his country, and a wretched love of life, have been his portion? Well now; do not you think him a considerable gainer by dying? No; but I warrant you the father of Admetus was a great gainer by living on in so mean-spirited and wretched a way as he did! For did not he die at last? For Heaven’s sake cease to be thus deluded by externals. Cease to make yourselves slaves; first, of things, and, then, upon their account, of the men who have the power either to bestow, or to take them away. Is there any advantage, then, to be gained from these men? From all; even from a reviler. What advantage does a wrestler gain from him with whom he exercises himself before the combat? The greatest. And just in the same manner I exercise myself with this man. He exercises me in patience, in gentleness, in meekness. I am to suppose, then, that I gain an advantage from him who exercises my neck, and puts my back and shoulders in order; so that the trainer may well bid me grapple him, with both hands, and the heavier he is the better for me; and yet it is no advantage to me when I am exercised in gentleness of temper! This is not to know how to gain an advantage from men. Is my neighbor a bad one? He is so to himself; but a good one to me. He exercises my good-temper, my moderation. Is my father bad? To himself; but not to me. “This is the rod of Hermes. Touch with it whatever you please, and it will become gold.” No; but bring whatever you please, and I will turn it into good. Bring sickness, death, want, reproach, trial for life. All these, by the rod of Hermes, shall turn to advantage. “What will you make of death?” Why, what but an ornament to you? what but a means of your showing, by action, what that man is who knows and follows the will of Nature. “What will you make of sickness?” I will show its nature. I will make a good figure in it; I will be composed and happy; I will not beseech my physician, nor yet will I pray to die. What need you ask further? Whatever you give me, I will make it happy, fortunate, respectable, and eligible.
No, but, “take care not to be sick; — it is an evil.” Just as if one should say, “Take care that the semblance of three being four does not present itself to you. It is an evil.” How an evil, man? If I think as I ought about it, what hurt will it any longer do me? Will it not rather be even an advantage to me? If then I think as I ought of poverty, of sickness, of political disorder, is not that enough for me? Why then must I any longer seek good or evil in externals?
But how is it? These truths are admitted here; but nobody carries them home, for immediately every one is in a state of war with his servant, his neighbors, with those who sneer and ridicule him. Many thanks to Lespius for proving every day that I know nothing.