Chapter 51

51.1 Εἰς ποῖον ἔτι χρόνον ἀναβάλλῃ τὸ τῶν βελτίστων ἀξιοῦν σεαυτὸν καὶ ἐν μηδενὶ παραβαίνειν τὸν αἱροῦντα λόγον; παρείληφας τὰ θεωρήματα· οἷς ἔδει συμβάλλειν συμβέβληκας. ποῖον ἔτι διδάσκαλον προσδοκᾷς, ἵνα εἰς ἐκεῖνον ὑπερθῇ τὴν ἐπανόρθωσιν ποιῆσαι τὴν σεαυτοῦ; οὐκέτι εἶ μειράκιον, ἀλλὰ ἀνὴρ ἤδη τέλειος. ἂν νῦν ἀμελήσῃς καὶ ῥᾳθυμήσῃς καὶ ἀεὶ ὑπερθέσεις ἐκ ὑπερθέσεων ποιῇ καὶ ἡμέρας ἄλλας ἐπ' ἄλλαις ὁρίζῃς μεθ' ἃς προσέξεις σεαυτῷ, λήσεις σεαυτὸν οὐ προκόψας, ἀλλ' ἰδιώτης διατελέσεις καὶ ζῶν καὶ ἀποθνῄσκων. 51.2 ἤδη οὖν ἀξίωσον σεαυτὸν βιοῦν ὡς τέλειον, ὡς προκόπτοντα· καὶ πᾶν τὸ βέλτιστον φαινόμενον ἔστω σοι νόμος ἀπαράβατος. κἂν ἐπίπονόν τι ἢ ἡδὺ ἢ ἔνδοξον ἢ ἄδοξον προσάγηται, μέμνησο ὅτι νῦν ὁ ἀγὼν, καὶ ὅτι ἤδη πάρεστι τὰ Ὀλύμπια καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀναβαλέσθαι οὐκέτι, καὶ ὅτι παρὰ μίαν ἧτταν καὶ ἔνδοσιν καὶ ἀπόλλυται προκοπὴ καὶ σῴζεται. 51.3 Σωκράτης οὕτως ἀπετελέσθη, ἐπὶ πάντων προάγων ἑαυτὸν μηδενὶ ἄλλῳ προσέχειν ἢ τῷ λόγῳ· σὺ δὲ εἰ καὶ μήπω εἶ Σωκράτης, ὡς Σωκράτης γε εἶναι βουλόμενος ὀφείλεις βιοῦν.

The Contest Is Now

The “Olympic games” are here (cf. Diss. 3.15.2 ff.), and a single defeat will jeopardize your philosophical progress. Socrates followed only reason; if you cannot be a Socrates, at least emulate him.

Εἰς ποῖον χρόνον: “for how long?”

ἀναβάλλῃ: 2 sg. pres. mid. ind. with future sense (S. 1879) and present-progressive aspect, “how long are you going to keep putting off?”

τὸν αἱροῦντα λόγον: “the persuading reason” = “correct thinking” (Smith 2014). See also the note on αἱρεῖ ὁ λόγος in 32.3, and LSJ αἱρέω A.II.5.

παρείληφας: > παραλαμβάνω, 2 sg. perf. act. ind.

οἷς: antecedent omitted (G. 614; S. 2509), “(with those) with whom,” dative after συμβέβληκας (λόγους), “you have had discussions with” (LSJ συμβάλλω A.I.10), 2 sg. perf. act. ind.

ὑπερθῇ: 2 sg. aor. mid. subj. in a result clause after ἵνα (= ὅπως, a Koine Greek feature)

ποιῇ: 2nd sg. pres. mid. subj.

ἡμέρας ἄλλας ἐπ' ἄλλαις: “one day after another”

λήσεις: 2 sg. fut. act. ind. of λανθάνω + a supplementary participle. “You will escape your notice not progressing,” “without realizing it you will make no progress” (G. 585; S. 2096).

51.2

πᾶν τὸ βέλτιστον φαινόμενον: “everything that seems best to you,” subject of ἔστω, 3 sg. pres. act. imper.

οὐκ ἔστιν ... οὐκέτι: “it is no longer possible”

51.3

οὕτως ἀπετελέσθη: 3 sg. aor. pass. ind., “became whο he was”

προάγων ἑαυτὸν: present participle expressing means (S. 2063), “by persuading himself to,” “by resolving to” + infin. (LSJ προάγω I.A.4)

εἰ καὶ: “even if” (S. 2375)

ἀναβάλλω, ἀναβαλῶ, ἀνέβαλον, to put off

βέλτιστος, -η, -ον, best, most excellent

παραβαίνω, παραβήσομαι, παρέβην, to transgress

παραλαμβάνω, παραλήψομαι, παρέλαβον, to receive, invite

θεώρημα, -ατος, τό, philosophical principle

συμβάλλω, συμβαλῶ, συνέβαλον, to join together, to discuss

διδάσκαλος, -ου, ὁ and ἡ, a teacher

προσδοκάω, προσδοκήσω, -εδόκησα, to expect, wait for

ὑπερτίθημι, ὑπερθήσω, ὑπερέθηκα, to defer, put off

ἐπανόρθωσις,-εως, ἡ, a correcting, improvement

μειράκιον,-ου, τό, a boy

τέλειος,-α,-ον, full-grown, adult

ἀμελέω, αμελήσω, ἠμέλησα, to be neglectful  

ῥᾳθυμέω, ῥᾳθυμήσω, εῥᾳθύμησα, to leave off work, to be remiss

ὑπέρθεσις, -εως, ἡ, delay

ὁρίζω, ὁριῶ, ὥρισα, to fix, set

προσέχω, προσέξω, προσχήσω, to hold to, turn to; pay attention to, be intent on + dat.; beware + μή + subj.

προκόπτω, προκόψω, προέκοψα, to advance; in Stoic terminology: to progress morally and philosophically

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

διατελέω, διατελέσω, ἐδιατέλεσα, to continue being or doing

51.2

ἀξιόω, ἀξιόσομαι, ἠξίωσα, to think (oneself) worthy or fit 

βιόω, βιώσομαι, ἐβίωσα, to live

ἀπαράβατος,-ον, unalterable, unbreakable

ἐπίπονος,-η,-ον, painful

ἔνδοξος,-η,-ον, held in honor

ἄδοξος, -ον, without glory, inglorious

προσάγω, to approach

Ὀλύμπια,-ας, ἡ, Olympic games

ἀναβάλλω,-βάλῶ -έβαλον, to put off

ἧττα,-ης, ἡ defeat

ἔνδοσις,-εως, ἡ, yielding, giving way

προκοπή,- ῆς, ἡ, progress

51.3

ἀποτελέω, ἀποτελέσω, ἀπετέλεσα, to accomplish; (pass.) to become, turn out to be

προάγω,-άξω,-ήγαγον, to bring to, induce, persuade

μήπω, (adv.) not yet

ὀφείλω, ὀφειλήσω, ὠφείλησα, to owe, to be bound to, ought to

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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-51