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Apart from direct mention of God, yet always with tacit reference to his nature as a pattern and to his power as a sanction, Epictetus' philosophy is in the main an exhortation to setting one's thoughts and desires solely upon the right action of a virtuous will.' The worth of all things lies not in themselves, but in the use we make of them: 2 "Life is indifferent, the use is not indifferent. "Where is the good? in the will. Where is the evil? in the will. Where is neither of them? in those things which are independent of the will? "'* Knowledge of these principles and a will strengthened by them make a man free, place him beyond the power of tyrants, for they cannot reach him who is careless of riches and fearless of pain. "If I feel that all these things do not concern me, he does not threaten me at all; but if I fear any of them, it is I whom he threatens. Whom then do I fear? The master of what? The master of things that are in my power? There is no such master. Do I fear the master of things which are not in my power? And what are these things to me?""

So true strength and well-being lie in a virtuous will guided by reason, which preserves peace within, and without displays itself in an honorable and beneficent life. "Do not cast around your house a large court and raise high towers, but strengthen the dwellers by goodwill and fidelity and friendship, and then nothing harmful will enter it, not even if the whole band of wickedness shall array itself against it."'"

Epictetus does not disapprove of social ties. He expounds friendship from the Stoical point of view; all men are attached to their own interests; sure friendship can exist only between those who set their interest not in things without them, but solely in their virtuous wills, which will harmonize with each other.' Marriage may be

1 See e. g., Dis., i, 25; iv, 1.

• Ib., ii, 5.

3 Ib., ii, 6.

4 Ib., ii, 16.
5 Ib., i, 29.

• Frag., xlv.
"Dis., ii, 22; cf. iii, 3.



well for those who are in a position to fulfil its duties; but for the Cynic, the true philosopher, whose function is to instruct, it is fitting that he should be without its cares, employed only on the ministration of God, able to go about among men, not tied down to the common duties of mankind, nor entangled in the ordinary relations of life, which if he neglects he will not maintain the character of an honorable and good man." Affection is well, provided it be kept under control; but " if through this affection as you name it, you are going to be a slave and wretched, there is no profit in being affectionate. And what prevents you from loving another as a person subject to mortality, as one who may go away from you? It is not fit for us to be unhappy on account of any person, but to be happy on account of all, but chiefly on account of God who has made us for this end. Do you remind yourself that he whom you love is mortal, and that what you love is nothing of your own.

Epictetus often draws lessons from his own time: "Let death and exile and every other thing which appears dreadful be daily before your eyes, but most of all death; and you will never think of anything mean, nor will you desire anything extravagantly. To the sage,


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life and death in themselves are indifferent; death is a tragic mask; it is a change" not from the state which now is to that which is not, but to that which is not You will not exist, but you will be something else of which the world now has need. Yet be not impatient to depart; "friends, wait for God; when he shall give the signal and release you from this service, then go to him, but for the present endure to dwell in the place where he has put you. Yet when it is useful to

1Dis., iii, 22; cf. 1 Corinthians vii, 35.

2 Dis., iii, 24; cf. Dis., iii, 13; Frag., clix. A Dis., ii, 1.

3 Encheiridion, xxi.

Ib., iii, 24.

Ib., i, 9; yet elsewhere Epictetus seems to admit the right to commit suicide. See i, 24; ii, 1.

men and obedient to God, do not shun death, but die for virtue's and the example's sake, as did Socrates who is still no less useful in the remembrance of his life and death than when he lived.' It is well if death finds you in some beneficent act, or at least conducting yourself virtuously in accordance with reason. Dying, may I stretch out my hands to God and say: "I have not dishonored thee by my acts. Have I ever blamed thee? Have I been discontented with anything? That thou hast given me life, I thank thee for what thou hast given. So long as I have used the things which are thine I am content; take them back, for thine were all things, thou gavest them to me." So in themselves death and life are nothing; the matter is that one live and die in perfect virtue and obedience to God. The ideal death, thinks Epictetus, was that of Socrates, who passed his last hours exercising his reason, discussing the immortality of the soul, and whose last words were a request to a friend to sacrifice a cock to Esculapius. Yet for himself Epictetus, dying, would stretch out his hands to God and commune with him, and justify himself in his eyes. This was very different from the death of Socrates, very different from the death of Cato in Utica; it was an approach to the mode in which mankind was soon to wish to die.

The Phrygian slave, a freedman as he afterwards became, of feeble body, of philosophic, virtuous, contented disposition, not called by his position

Marcus Aurelius.

to the discharge of public or extensive social The Pathos duties, but through circumstances enabled to of Stoicism; spend his life in reflection and teaching, found living in accordance with Stoical principles a simple and even cheerful matter.

So a great emperor

like Trajan, or a good ruler like Antoninus Pius, who was not endowed with the contemplative mind of his adoptive son, might with cheerfulness and peace rule the Empire. But a man by nature and education drawn to 1 See Dis., iv, I. 2 Ib., iv, 10, and see iii, 4.

VOL. 11.-5

philosophy and musing upon life, to whom action must always have been unhappy effort, a man rather inclined to asceticism, endued with intellectual melancholy not unlike Hamlet's, a man of pure heart, caring for his fellows, loving still more the principles of truth and justice, one to whom the petty, evil motives of men around him were both loathsome and painful, such a man, made emperor and forced to spend his years fighting northern barbarians, could hardly maintain his cheerfulness. The pathos of mortality pressed hard on him; the bitter irony of his position, the dark contrast between his imperial endeavors and the mortal shortness of his life with no reward to come from anywhere, and his actual unhappiness amid it all, precluded satisfaction save the sense of acting aright in accord with the divine will, precluded content save that which came from thought of the nothingness of joy as well as sorrow. Besides, how could the emperor not know the ebbing tide of Roman strength? A succession of great rulers had preserved the Empire's apparent prosperity. Yet there was no such confidence and hope as filled the dawn of the Augustan time. Year by year the barbarian world outside was more importunate, the strength within the Empire's bounds was less. No emperor before him had been forced to wage such ceaseless war against barbarians. Marcus may have felt that his reign was the beginning of the end. With all reverence for the greatness of this great man, one may feel that the burden of his life was more than he could bear, and, though he reached the goal ever a conqueror, there was no victor's gladness in his heart. The never absent shortcoming, let us not say failure, in the life of Marcus lay here, that his circumstances so saddened him that he was forced, in order to bear up against the burden of his life, to lead it in accordance with principles which his heart felt left much of life unrecognized, and to act on assumptions which were unreal. He looked on life obliquely, because its full content was more than his philosophy could account for or his heart endure.

All Things

Come from

the Gods.

No man viewing life from the Stoical standpoint, indeed no one whose nature was filled with what was best in paganism, could have guided his life with fuller reference to God than Epictetus. In this respect Marcus Aurelius could not go beyond him, yet in devoted obedience to the divine law the emperor was the freedman's equal. Marcus devotes the first book of his Thoughts to telling the benefits he had derived from his parents and teachers, how from one he learned good morals and the government of his temper, how from another not to busy himself with trifles, from another not to waste time in speculative studies or rhetoric or poetry, from another freedom of will and steadiness of purpose, from another a benevolent disposition, from another to love his kin, to love truth. and justice, and from another "the idea of a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed." In his adoptive father' he had the pattern of a ruler, one who was mild of temper, unchangeable in things resolved on after due deliberation, not vainglorious, painstaking, ready to listen, persistent in inquiry, firm in rewarding men according to their deserts, careful in checking flattery, patient in enduring blame, watchful over the affairs of the Empire, using the commodities of life which fortune gave, yet just as cheerful without them, a man of invincible soul. These qualities Marcus might copy from his predecessor; from his own mother he had learned " piety and beneficence, and abstinence not only from evil deeds, but from evil thoughts; and further, simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich.""

Marcus is grateful to the human beings through whom he has derived good; but he gives thanks to the gods as the ultimate sources of it all: "To the gods I am indebted for having good grandfathers, good parents, a good sis1 Thoughts, i, 14.

2 Antoninus Pius.

3 i, 3.

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