Monday, April 29, 2019

Epictetus Discourses 3.5 - To those who leave because of illness

One of Epictetus' students is ill and wants to go home; Epictetus teaches him an important lesson: "if your ruling centre can't be kept in accord with nature, your little piece of land at least could be.  You'll add to your small store of cash, look after your father in his old age, hang around in the marketplace, hold public office; and being of bad character, you'll do everything else badly" (v. 3, p. 153).  His point being, if the student (us) cannot first control our ruling center, then we won't do anything else, no matter what we focus on, well.

While some want to die in the act of enjoying something they love (i.e. racing, travelling, etc), Epictetus wants to die in the act of improving his character.

He wants to be:

If he falls ill, he will do so without complaining.

He will always have a smile on his face; ready to accept any fate assigned to him; being full of gratitude; willing to see and appreciate all of God's works and accept God's "governing order" (see v. 9-10, p. 154).

Socrates said, "As one person rejoices in improving his land, and another his horse, so I rejoice day by day in observing that I myself am becoming better" ... never finding "fault with anyone, whether god or human being, and never [reproaching] anyone, and always [having] the same expression on [my] face (v. 14-16, p. 154).

"Who of you sets this as his purpose, then?  Because if you did, you'd willingly undergo illness, hunger, and death" (v. 18, p. 154).

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