Home  »  On Friendship  »  LXXIII

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


Give me but one young man, that has come to the School with this intention, who stands forth a champion of this cause, and says, “All else I renounce, content if I am but able to pass my life free from hindrance and trouble; to raise my head aloft and face all things as a free man; to look up to heaven as a friend of God, fearing nothing that may come to pass!” Point out such a one to me, that I may say, “Enter, young man, into possession of that which is thine own. For thy lot is to adorn Philosophy. Thine are these possessions; thine these books, these discourses!”

And when our champion has duly exercised himself in this part of the subject, I hope he will come back to me and say:—“What I desire is to be free from passion and from perturbation; as one who grudges no pains in the pursuit of piety and philosophy, what I desire is to know my duty to the Gods, my duty to my parents, to my brothers, to my country, to strangers.”

“Enter then on the second part of the subject; it is thine also.”

“But I have already mastered the second part; only I wished to stand firm and unshaken—as firm when asleep as when awake, as firm when elated with wine as in despondency and dejection.”

“Friend, you are verily a God! you cherish great designs.”