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Diogenes of Sinope | Epictetus, Discourses 3.24

Come, now, tell me the way of life your heart is set on—you who profess to admire truth and Socrates and Diogenes. What do you want to do in Athens? Just what you are doing? Nothing else? Then why do you call yourself a Stoic? If those who speak falsely of the Roman constitution are seriously punished, are those who speak falsely of so great and serious a subject and a name to get off scot free? That cannot be; none may escape this divine and mighty law, which exacts the greatest punishments from those whose offence is greatest. What does it say? 'He that pretends to qualities that concern him not, let him be given to vanity and arrogance; let him that disobeys the divine government be an abject slave, let him be subject to pain, envy, pity, in a word, let him be miserable and full of lamentations.'

Source: The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, [1916]

'How then am I to prove myself affectionate?'

In a noble and not a miserable spirit. For it is against all reason to be of an abject and broken spirit and to depend on another and to blame God or man. Prove yourself affectionate, but see that you observe these rules; if this affection of yours, or whatever you call it, is going to make you a miserable slave, it is not for your good to be affectionate. Nay, what prevents you loving a man as one who is mortal and bound to leave you? Did not Socrates love his children? Yes, but as one who is free and bears in mind that the love of the gods stands first, and therefore he failed in none of the duties of a good man, either in his defence, or in assessing his penalty, or earlier still as a member of the council or a soldier in the field. But we abound in every kind of excuse for a mean spirit; with some of us it is a child, with others our mother or our brothers. We ought not to let any one make us miserable, but let every one make us happy, and God above all, Who created us for this. Go to, did Diogenes love no one, he who was so gentle and kind-hearted that he cheerfully took upon him all those troubles and distresses of body for the general good of men? But how did he love? As the servant of Zeus should love, caring for his friends, but submitting himself to God. That was why he alone made the whole world his country, and no special land, and when he was made prisoner he did not long for Athens or for his friends and companions there, but made himself at home with the pirates who took him and tried to make them better, and afterwards when he was sold he lived in Corinth just as he lived before in Athens; yes, and if he had gone away to the Perrhaebians it would have been just the same. That is how freedom is achieved. That is why he said, 'Since Antisthenes freed me, I have ceased to be a slave.' How did he free him? Hear what he says: 'He taught me what is mine and what is not mine; property is not mine; kinsfolk, relations, friends, reputation, familiar places, converse with men—none of these is my own.'

Source: The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, [1916]

diogenes_of_sinope/epictetus_discourses_3.24.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/14 23:19 (external edit)