THE DIAIRESIS TREE

 

 

“THE DIAIRESIS TREE”

THE FRAGMENTS

 

All

EPICTETUS

 

Newly Translated

by

 

FRANCO SCALENGHE

 

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EPICTETUS - FRAGMENTS

Εἰδέναι χρή, ὅτι οὐ ῥᾴδιον δόγμα παραγενέσθαι ἀνθρώπῳ, εἰ μὴ καθ' ἑκάστην ἡμέραν τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ λέγοι τις καὶ ἀκούοι καὶ ἅμα χρῷτο πρὸς τὸν βίον.

"It is compulsory to know that a judgement does not become easily present to a person unless he should every day say and hear the same judgements and at the same time use them for life”. (Fr. XVI)

 

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 2, 1, 31.
From Arrian, pupil of Epictetus. To the one who meddled in the problem of substance.

What do I care, Epictetus says, whether the things that are consist of atoms or of homoeomeries or of fire and earth? Is it not sufficient to learn the substance of good and evil things, the measures of desires and aversions and, further, of impulses and repulsions and using these as standards to govern the affairs of life, dispensing with the issues that are beyond us? Issues that are, perhaps, out of the grasp of human intelligence, and even if one stated that they are very well within our grasp, what would be the avail of grasping them? Ought we not to say that have troubles in vain those who ascribe these issues as necessary to the definition of philosopher? Is it, then, also the prescription at Delphi redundant: "Recognize yourself"? -This is not, he says- Which is, then, its meaning? If one bade a chorus-singer to recognize himself, would he not pay attention to the precept by turning his mind both towards his chorus-fellows and his harmony with them? -Yes- And if one bade a sailor? And a soldier? And you deem the human being a creature made for himself or for society? -For society- By what? -By nature- What is nature and how it governs the whole and whether it exists or not, these are issues it is no longer necessary to meddle in.

II

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 44, 65.
From Arrian, pupil of Epictetus.

He who dislikes what is present and has been given him by fortune is, in point of life, a layman. But he who bears with this generously and works rationally with what comes out of it, deserves to be legitimized a good man.

III

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 44, 66.
From the same.

All things heed and do service to the World: earth and sea, sun and the other stars, vegetables and animals of the earth. Our body too heeds to it, being sick and being healthy when it disposes so, and being young and getting old and going across the other transformations. Therefore it is reasonable that also what is in our exclusive power, that is the determination, should not contend alone against it. For it is potent and superior to us and has taken about us the better counsel and governs us together with the whole. Besides this the resistance to it means to side with unreason and making nothing more that to fidget in vain, makes us to stumble on sorrows and grieves.

IV

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 2, 8, 30.
Musonius, Fragment 38 Hense.
Of Rufus. From the remarks of Epictetus on friendship.

Of the things that are, Zeus set some in our exclusive power, others not in our exclusive power. In our exclusive power is the most beautiful and worth of the most earnest attention, the one by which he himself is happy, that is the use of impressions. For when this use occurs rightly there are freedom, serenity, cheerfulness, stability of judgements. Right use of the impressions is also justice, law, temperance and virtue all at once. All the rest he did not made in our exclusive power. Therefore it is compulsory that we too become men voting unanimously with Matter Immortal and, discriminating the things in this way, that we lay claim in all manner on what is in our exclusive power and entrust what is not in our exclusive power to the World, and that we merrily give way to it, would it need our children, our fatherland, our body or anything whatsoever.

V

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 19, 13.
Musonius, Fragment 39 Hense.
Of Rufus. From Epictetus on friendship.

Who among us does not admire the words of Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian? For crippled to an eye from one of the citizens, he assumed the younker from the populace, that he may take vengeance upon him as he decided. Yet he abstained from this, but he educated him and after declaring him a good man, brought him to the theatre. To the amazed Lacedaemonians "When I got him”, he said, "from you, this fellow was outrageous and violent. I give him back to you acquiescent and friend to people”.

VI

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 20, 60.
Musonius, Fragment 40 Hense.
Of Rufus. From Epictetus on friendship.

But above all else, the work of nature is to tie and reconcile our impulse to the impression of befitting and beneficial.

VII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 20, 61.
Musonius, Fragment 41 Hense.
From the same.

To think that we will be contemptible in another's eye if we do not damage in every way our first personal enemies, is typical of very mean and crazy people. For we say that the contemptible person is identified also by his impossibility to damage, but much more he is identified by his impossibility to benefit.

VIII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 44, 60.
Musonius, Fragment 42 Hense.
Of Rufus. From the remarks of Epictetus on friendship.

Such was, is and will be the nature of the World, and it's impossible for the events to happen otherwise than they do now. And not only the human beings and the other creatures on earth have taken a share into this development and transformation, but also what is material takes a share in it and, by Zeus, the four elements themselves turn upside down and transform and the earth becomes water, the water air and this again is transformed into ether. And the same is the manner of transformation from above downwards. If one attempts to lean his mind to this truth and persuades himself to admit purposely what is necessary, he will live a very well-balanced and harmonious life.

IX

Gellius "Noctes Atticae" 19, 1, 14-21.

A well-known philosopher of the Stoic school....brought out of his handbag the fifth book of the "Discourses" of the philosopher Epictetus, gathered by Arrian and no doubt in agreement with the writings of Zeno and of Chrysippus. In that book, obviously written in Greek, we read a passage so conceived: "The impressions (that the philosophers call fantasìai) by which the mind of a human being is at once struck as soon as the appearance of anything comes to it, are subject neither to his free judgement nor to his control but they find their way almost with violence, in order to be known by him. On the contrary the assents (that the philosophers call sunkatathéseis) with which the same impressions are recognized, are free judgements and are subject to the control of the human being. For this reason, when some terrifying noise comes either from the sky or from the collapse of a building, or the sudden new of some danger is given or something else of this sort happens, it is necessary also for the mind of the wise man to be shaken for a while and for him to shrink and turn pale, not because of any prevision of some evil but because of the presence of certain swift and unconsidered motions that prevail over the normal functions of mind and reason. Soon, however, the wise man does not give his assent (this means où sunkatatìthetai oudé prosepidoxàzei) to those impressions (that is, to the frightfulness of those impressions of his mind) but rejects and drives them back, and sees in them nothing dreadful. And this, they say, is the difference between the mind of the wise man and that of the insipient person. This last believes truly awful and cruel the things that so appeared to him at his first impression and afterwards, as if they were really terrible, he gives also his assent and makes it to become his own opinion (prosepidoxàzei is the verb that Stoics use when talking about this). The wise man, on the contrary, after having briefly and fleetly changed his color and his expression où sunkatatìthetai, that is he does not give his assent, but keeps firmly and with vigour the judgement that he always had about such impressions, as not dreadful and frightening with a false appearance and with a vain fear". In the above-mentioned book we read that this is what thinks and says Epictetus, according to the doctrines of the Stoics.

X

Gellius "Noctes Atticae" 17, 19.
"Tolerate another's intolerance" and "Abstain from intemperance".

I heard Favorinus say that the philosopher Epictetus observed how most of those who seem to philosophize are philosophers of the kind: "àneu toù pràttein, mékri toù léghein" (that means: apart from practice, as far as words). There is also another more vehement expression that Epictetus was accustomed to use and that Arrian has recorded in the books he wrote gathering the ‘Discourses’ of his teacher. When Epictetus realized, Arrian says, that a person who had lost his self respect, who spent his energies in a disorderly life, who had depraved habits, who was bold, impudent in speech and concerned with everything but his mind, well, he says, when he saw such kind of person handling the philosophical works and disciplines, undertaking physics, studying dialectic and trying to know and inquire many principles of this order of studies, then he called as witness god and men's faithfulness and often shouting he would tell off the fellow with these words: "O man, and where do you throw this stuff? Analyse first whether the container has been cleaned. For if you throw it where there is conceit, it is lost. And if it rots away it becomes urine or vinegar or something worse than these things”. There are certainly no words weightier nor truer than these, with which the greatest the of philosophers declared that philosophical literature and doctrines, when poured in a false and depraved fellow, like in a dirty and defiled container, turn, change, are spoiled and, as he said more cynically, become urine or something dirtier than urine. The same Epictetus, as I heard from Favorinus, used to say that there are two vices far more severe and disgusting than all others, that is intolerance and intemperance. Intolerance, when we are unable to tolerate or bear with offences that we must bear with; intemperance, when we are unable to restrain ourselves from the things and pleasures from which we must restrain. "Therefore", he said, "if one would take to heart these two words and would worry about making them his own regulating and governing principles, then he would never make mistakes and would live a very peaceful life”. These were the two words that he said: "anékou" and "apékou".

XI

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 33, 28.
From the hortatory conversations of Arrian.

Yet Socrates, when Archelaus sent for him with the promise of making him wealthy in money, summoned to announce to him that "At Athens four choenixes of barley-meal can be purchased with an obol and there are springs of running water”. For even if what I have is not sufficient, I am sufficient for it and in this way it too is sufficient for me. Or don't you see that Polus did not play the part of Oedipus the Tyrant with a better and more pleasant voice than the Oedipus, wanderer and beggar, at Colonus? And then will the generous man show himself worse than Polus, and not play well any part with which his gene clothes him? And will he not imitate Odysseus, who stood out no less in rags than in a woolly purple wrapper?

XII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 20, 47.
From Arrian.

There are great-hearted people who perform, with a quiet meekness and as without anger, what those vehemently drifted by wrath do. We must be on our guard, then, against their oversight, because it is much worse of the furious anger of the others. For these are quickly sated with revenge, while the first prolong it like those who have a slight persistent fever.

XIII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 1, 3, 50.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

-But I see, someone says, also the virtuous men perishing from hunger and shivers-
And don't you see those who are not virtuous perishing from effeminacy, brag, ignorance of the beautiful?
-But it’s a shameful thing to be fed by another!-
And which other thing, O unhappy fellow, feeds by itself except the World? Therefore whoever brings charges to Matter Immortal's mind because knavish people do not pay the penalty and because they are strong and wealthy in money, does something similar as he said that, once they have lost their eyes, they nevertheless have not paid the penalty because their finger-nails are sound. And I say that there is much more difference between virtue and estate than between eyes and finger-nails.

XIV

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 6, 57.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

...and bring forward those ill-tempered philosophers who think pleasure not to be in accord with nature but to supervene to things in accord with nature, as justice, temperance, freedom. Why, then, does the soul rejoice and find peace through the body's goods, that are smaller, as Epicurus says, while it does not delight in its own goods, that are the greatest? Yet nature has given me self respect and many times I blush, when I conceive something shameful to say. This motion does not allow me to set physical pleasure as good and end of life.

XV

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 6, 58.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

At Rome the ladies have in their hands the "Republic" of Plato, because it would urge the ladies to be common. They are paying attention to the phrases, not to the intellect of the philosopher; because he does not summon to marry and dwell together one male with one female, and then decides the ladies to be common, but eradicates such a marriage and brings in another form of it. Generally the human beings rejoice in providing defenses for their aberrations. Since philosophy says that it does not befit to stretch out at random not even the finger!

XVI

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 29, 84.
From the Memoirs of Epictetus.

It is compulsory to know that a judgement does not become easily present to a person unless he should every day say and hear the same judgements and at the same time use them for life.

XVII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 4, 91.
From Epictetus.

When, then, we are invited to a banquet, we use what is present. If one would summon his host to place beside him fish or cakes, he would be regarded as eccentric. Yet in the World we ask the gods for what they don't give, even if there are many things that they have actually given us.

XVIII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 4, 92.
From the same.

They are amusing, he said, those who have high thoughts about what is not in our exclusive power! "I" one says, "am better than you because I have many lands, while you are tormented by hunger”. Another says: "I am of consular rank”. Another: "I am a procurator”. Another: "I have woolly hair”. Yet a horse does not say to another horse: "I am better than you because I have plenty of fodder and of barley, my bits are golden and my saddlecloths are multicoloured”, but it says "I run faster than you”. And every creature is better or worse according to its own virtue or vice. Only for the human being, then, there is no virtue and we must have in view the hair and the robes and the grandfathers?

XIX

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 4, 93.
From the same.

The patients take offence with the physician who advises nothing to them and believe to be despaired by him. And why should not one be disposed in like manner towards the philosopher, so as to think to be despaired by him with regard to temperance, if he would tell one nothing profitable?

XX

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 4, 94.
From the same.

Those whose body is well disposed abide patiently burning heat and cold weather. So also those whose mind is virtuously disposed abide patiently anger, grief, great joy and the other passions.

XXI

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 7, 16.
From Epictetus.

For this reason it is right to praise Agrippinus, because, although being a man of the greatest value, he never praised himself but, if someone else praised him, he blushed. This was such a man, Epictetus said, as to always write a praise of the difficulty that occurred to him. If he had a fever, of the fever; if he had ill reputation, of ill reputation; if he went into exile, of exile. And once, he said, while he was going to lunch, someone stood by his side and told that Nero summoned him to go into exile. "Well”, he said, "then we shall lunch at Aricia!"

XXII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 7, 44.
From Agrippinus.

When Agrippinus was governor, he used to try to persuade those who were sentenced by him that it befitted them to be sentenced. For, he said, I do not cast down the pebble against them as against enemies or robbers, but as a curator and tutor; as also the physician consoles the one who needs surgery and persuades him to submit to the operation.

XXIII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 53, 29.
From Epictetus.

Amazing is nature and, as Xenophon says, fond of her creatures. At all events we cherish and look after our body, the thing most unpleasant and filthy of all. For if, for five days only, we had to look after the body of our neighbour, we would have submit to this. Just see what sort of thing is to set up in the morning and brush another's teeth; then, after doing something necessary, to wash clean those parts. It's indeed amazing to have a predilection for a thing for which we perform so many services every day. I stuff this sack and then I evacuate: what is heavier than this? But I must do service to Matter Immortal. For this reason I remain and I tolerate to bathe this shabby body, to fodder it, to shelter it. When I was younger, it enjoined me also something else and yet I tolerated it. When nature, that gave us the body, takes it off why, then, don’t you tolerate it?
-I love it- someone says
But, as I was saying now, is it not nature that has given you also this very love? And nature says: "Give it up by now and have no more troubles”.

XXIV

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 53, 30.
From the same.

If one ends his life when young, he brings charges to the gods... [because he is carried off before his time. If, when old, one is slow in dying, also in this case he brings charges to the gods...] because, being for him by now time to rest, he has troubles. Nonetheless, when he approaches death, he decides to live and sends for the physician and entreats him to leave behind neither zeal nor diligence. Amazing, he said, are the human beings who want neither live nor die.

XXV

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 20, 67.
From Epictetus.

When you assault anyone with a threatening vehemence, remember to foretell yourself that you are a tame creature; and having done nothing wild, you will go through life unrepentant and free from liability.

XXVI

Marcus Aurelius 4, 41.

You are a little soul that bears a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.

XXVII

Marcus Aurelius 11, 37.

We must, he said, find an art about assenting and, in the topic of impulses, we must guard to keep attention, that they may be with reservations, sociable and as it's worth. And we must abstain altogether from desire and use aversion towards nothing of what is not in our exclusive power.

XXVIII

Marcus Aurelius 11, 38.

The contest, then, is not on what we chance upon, he said, but on being mad or not mad.

XXVIIIa

Marcus Aurelius 11, 39.

Socrates used to say: "What do you decide? To have the soul of rational creatures or of creatures lacking reason?" "Of rational ones”. "And which kind of rational creatures? Sound or insipient ones?" "Sound”. "Why, then, don't you look for that?" "Because we have it”. "Why, then, do you struggle and quarrel?"

XXVIIIb

Marcus Aurelius 4, 49, 2-6.

"Misfortuned me, because this occurred to me!" Say not so, but: "Fortunate that I am, because, although this has occurred to me, I continue to be able to control grief, being neither shattered by the present nor in fear of whatever will come”. For something of this sort could occur to anyone, but not everyone would have continued to be able to control grief. Why, then, is that one a misfortune rather than this one a fortune? Generally do you call misfortune of a man what is not a failure of man's nature? And do you think a failure of man's nature what is not against the plan of his nature? What then? You have learned the plan of man's nature. Does what has occurred prevent you to be just, magnanimous, temperate, judicious, not precipitate, not deceitful, self respecting, free and the other things thanks to the presence of which man's nature has what is peculiar to it? Well then, in the face of anything that promotes you to a grief, remember to use this judgements: "Not that this is a misfortune but that to bear generously with it is a good fortune”.

 

EPICTETUS - DOUBTFUL AND SPURIOUS FRAGMENTS

XXIX

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 35, 10.
From the Manual of Epictetus.

In every circumstance mind of nothing as of safety; for to keep silent is safer than to speak. And do not allow yourself to say what will be crazy and full of censure.

XXX

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 46, 22.
From Epictetus.

We ought neither anchor the ship to one anchor only, nor our life to one hope only.

XXXI

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 46, 23.
From the same.

Both with our legs and with our hopes we must cross over what we can.

XXXII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 4, 46, 23.
From Epictetus.

It is more necessary to heal the soul than the body, for it's better to die than to live viciously.

XXXIII

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 6, 59.
Democritus, Fragment 232 Diels.

Of the pleasures, the rarest ones gladden to the highest degree.

XXXIV

Stobaeus "Eclogae" 3, 6, 60.
Democritus, Fragment 233 Diels.

If a man should overpass the moderation, the more delicious things would become the less attractive.

XXXV

Florilegium, Cod. Paris. 1168

No man is free if he is not the master of himself.

XXXVI

Antonius Diogenes 1, 21.

The truth is an immortal and everlasting stuff, that provides us neither with a prettiness that withers with time nor with a freedom of word that can be subtracted by a lawsuit, but with what is just and lawful, distinguishing it from what is unjust and refuting it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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