Chapter 4

4.1 Ὅταν ἅπτεσθαί τινος ἔργου μέλλῃς, ὑπομίμνῃσκε σεαυτόν, ὁποῖόν τί ἐστι τὸ ἔργον. ἐὰν λουσόμενος ἀπίῃς, πρόβαλλε σεαυτῷ τὰ γινόμενα ἐν βαλανείῳ, τοὺς ἀπορραίνοντας, τοὺς ἐνσειομένους, τοὺς λοιδοροῦντας, τοὺς κλέπτοντας· καὶ οὕτως ἀσφαλέστερον ἅψῃ τοῦ ἔργου, ἐὰν ἐπιλέγῃς εὐθὺς ὅτι «λούσασθαι θέλω καὶ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ προαίρεσιν κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν τηρῆσαι.» καὶ ὡσαύτως ἐφ' ἑκάστου ἔργου. οὕτω γὰρ, ἄν τι πρὸς τὸ λούσασθαι γένηται ἐμπόδιον, πρόχειρον ἔσται διότι «ἀλλ' οὐ τοῦτο ἤθελον μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ προαίρεσιν κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν τηρῆσαι· οὐ τηρήσω δέ, ἐὰν ἀγανακτῶ πρὸς τὰ γινόμενα.»

Going to the Baths

A specific example: preserving your volition or integrity while going to the baths, a daily activity for ancient Romans.

μέλλῃς: > μέλλω, 2 sg. pres. act. subj. in a conditional + imperative construction

λουσόμενος: > λούω, fut. mid. part. expressing purpose, after verbs meaning to “send,” “go,” “come,” etc. (G. 583.b; S. 2065).

ἀπίῃς: “go off (to)” > ἄπειμι, 2 sg. pres. act. subj. in a conditional + imperative construction. See LSJ ἄπειμι (B), (εἶμι ibo).

τὰ γινόμενα: in Koine Greek and Epictetus, γἰνομαι is the regular form for the classical γίγνομαι.

ἀσφαλέστερον: comparative adv. = “more safely” (G. 234; S. 345).

ἅψῃ: > ἅπτω, 2 sg. fut. mid. ind.

ἐπιλέγῃς: > ἐπιλέγω, 2 sg. pres. act. subj. in a future more vivid condition (G. 650; S. 2291.3a).

θέλω καὶ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ προαίρεσιν κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν τηρῆσαι: (literally) “I also wish to preserve my volition holding in accord with nature.” Volition (prohaeresis) is a key term in Epictetus’ philosophical outlook. Volition is what persons are in terms of their mental faculties, consciousness, character, judgment, goals, and desires. You and I are not our bodies; rather we, our essential selves, are our volitions. The sentence might be paraphrased, “I want to bathe and stay true to myself.” (Smith 2014). Cf. Diss. 2.2.2, 3.4.9 and 3.6.3. κατὰ φύσιν ἔχουσαν: recall that ἔχω + adverb indicates a state of being (ἔχω καλῶς = “I am well”). The prepositional phrase is here equivalent to an adverb. The phrase appears again in ch. 13.1 with φυλάξαι as the verb in place of τηρῆσαι.

θέλω: θέλω is the regular form of ἐθέλω that appears in Epictetus, except when the verb is augmented (see ἤθελον below).

προαίρεσιν: see Introduction, Assent.

ἄν: = ἐάν

τὸ λούσασθαι: art. infin. (G. 574–575; S. 2025) here functioning as the object of the preposition πρός.

πρόχειρον ἔσται: “it will be easy (for you to respond).” Cf. Ch. 1.5.

οὐ μόνον ... ἀλλ καί: “not only…but also.”

ἀγανακτῶ: > ἀγανακτέω, 1 sg. pres. act. subj. in a future more vivid condition (G. 650; S. 2291.3a)

ἅπτω, ἅψω, ἥψα, to grasp, obtain, engage in, undertake (+ gen.)

ὑπομιμνήσκω, ὑπομνήσω, ὑπέμνησα, to remind

ὁποῖος, -α, -ον, what sort

λούω, λούσω, ἔλουσα, to wash, to bathe

προβάλλω, -βαλῶ, -έβαλον, to put before oneself = to keep in mind, imagine  (+ dat.)

βαλανεῖον, -ου, τό, a bath, establishment for communal bathing

ἀπορραίνω, ἀπορρανῶ, ἀπέρρανα, to splash

ἐνσείω, ἐνσείσω, ἐνέσεισα, to jostle

λοιδορέω, λοιδορήσω, ἐλοιδόρησα, to insult, verbally abuse; reproach, rebuke

κλέπτω, κλέψω, ἔκλεψα, to steal

ἀσφαλής, -ές, safe

ἐπιλέγω, -λέξω, -έλεξα, to say in addition

ἐμαυτοῦ, -ῆς, -οῦ, of me, of myself

προαίρεσις, -εως, ἡ, the volition, will

τηρέω, τηρήσω, ἐτήρησα, to guard, preserve

ὡσαύτως, adv., in the same way

ἐμπόδιος, -ον, in the way, impeding, as substantive = an impediment

πρόχειρος, ον: at hand, readily accessible

διότι, since, because, that

ἀγανακτέω, ἀγανακτήσω: to feel irritation, to be annoyed at + genitive; to be irritated or displeased

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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-4