Chapter 17

17.1 μέμνησο ὅτι ὑποκριτὴς εἶ δράματος,οἵου ἂν θέλῃ ὁ διδάσκαλος. ἂν βραχύ, βραχέος· ἂν μακρόν, μακροῦ· ἂν πτωχὸν ὑποκρίνασθαί σε θέλῃ, ἵνα καὶ τοῦτον εὐφυῶς ὑποκρίνῃ· ἂν χωλόν, ἂν ἄρχοντα, ἂν ἰδιώτην. σὸν γὰρ τοῦτ᾽ ἔστι, τὸ δοθὲν πρόσωπον ὑποκρίνασθαι καλῶς· ἐκλέξασθαι δὲ αὐτὸ ἄλλου.

You are an Actor in the World Drama

Epictetus often speaks of your having to play your role in the drama of the world. Cf. Diss. 1.29.41, 3.24.96–99, 4.7.12 ff. The playwright (the Stoic god) chooses the role, and it is up to you to act it well.

οἵου: the pronoun has been attracted to the case of the antecedent δράματος (G. 613.b; S. 2522).

θέλῃ: > ἐθέλω, 3 sg. aor. act. subj. in a clause expressing generality (G. 616; S. 2545c)

ἂν βραχύ, βραχέος: ἂν = εἄν; fully written out, the condition would read as follows: ἐὰν ὁ διδάσκαλος θέλῃ δράμα εἶναι βραχύ, εἶ ὁ ὑποκρίτης τοῦ βραχέος δράματος.

ἵνα: “(see to it) that.” Supply πρόσεχε or ὅρα. On this rare use of ἵνα to introduce an object clause of effort (which governs the 2nd sg. pres. mid. subj. ὑποκρίνῃ), see S. 2209 and The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Christian Literature, s.v. ἵνα, II.1.a. The more regular conjunction would be ὄπως.

τοῦτ’: the pronoun points ahead to the following infinitive clause.

τὸ δοθὲν: > δίδωμι, aor. pass. part. acc. neut. sg.

ὑποκρίνασθαι: > ὑποκρίνω, aor. mid. infin. in apposition to τοῦτ’.

ἐκλέξασθαι: > ἐκλέγω, “to choose.” The infinitive serves as subject of the sentence.

ἄλλου: “(is the part) of another,” “(is) another’s,” “belongs to another,” an example of the so-called predicate genitive (G. 508 [see last example]; S. 1304)

ὑποκριτής, -οῦ, ὁ, actor

δράμα, -ατος, τό, play, drama

διδάσκαλος, -οῦ, ὁ, teacher; playwright

πτωχός, -οῦ, ὁ, beggar

ὑποκρίνομαι, ὑποκρινοῦμαι, ὑπεκρινάμην, to play a part

εὐφυῶς, (adv.) properly, suitably

χωλός, -ή ,-όν , lame

ἰδιώτης, -ου, ὁ, a private person, layman, common man; a non-philosopher

πρόσωπον, -ου, τό, role, part in a play

ἐκλέγω, ἐκλέξω, ἔκλεξα, to pick out, choose

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Suggested Citation

Albert Watanabe, Epictetus: Encheiridion. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2020. ISBN: 978-1-947822-13-9.
http://dcc.dickinson.edu/epictetus-encheiridion/chapter-17