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Epictetus. (c.A.D. 50–c.A.D. 138). The Golden Sayings of Epictetus.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


Nay, young man, for heaven’s sake; but once thou hast heard these words, go home and say to thyself:—“It is not Epictetus that has told me these things: how indeed should he? No, it is some gracious God through him. Else it would never have entered his head to tell me them—he that is not used to speak to any one thus. Well, then, let us not lie under the wrath of God, but be obedient unto Him.”—Nay, indeed; but if a raven by its croaking bears thee any sign, it is not the raven but God that sends the sign through the raven; and if He signifies anything to thee through human voice, will He not cause the man to say these words to thee, that thou mayest know the power of the Divine—how He sends a sign to some in one way and to others in another, and on the greatest and highest matters of all signifies His will through the noblest messenger?

What else does the poet mean:—

  • I spake unto him erst Myself, and sent
  • Hermes the shining One, to check and warn him,
  • The husband not to slay, nor woo the wife!