Chapter 7

7.1 Καθάπερ ἐν πλῷ τοῦ πλοίου καθορμισθέντος εἰ ἐξέλθοις ὑδρεύσασθαι, ὁδοῦ μὲν πάρεργον καὶ κοχλίδιον ἀναλέξῃ καὶ βολβάριον, τετάσθαι δὲ δεῖ τὴν διάνοιαν ἐπὶ τὸ πλοῖον καὶ συνεχῶς ἐπιστρέφεσθαι μή τι ὁ κυβερνήτης καλέσῃ, κἂν καλέσῃ, πάντα ἐκεῖνα ἀφιέναι, ἵνα μὴ δεδεμένος ἐμβληθῇς ὡς τὰ πρόβατα, οὕτω καὶ ἐν τῷ βίῳ, ἐὰν διδῶται ἀντὶ βολβαρίου καὶ κοχλιδίου γυναικάριον καὶ παιδίον, οὐδὲν κωλύσει·  ἐὰν δὲ ὁ κυβερνήτης καλέσῃ, τρέχε ἐπὶ τὸ πλοῖον ἀφεὶς ἐκεῖνα ἅπαντα μηδὲ ἐπιστρεφόμενος· ἐὰν δὲ γέρων ᾖς, μηδὲ ἀπαλλαγῇς ποτε τοῦ πλοίου μακράν, μή ποτε καλοῦντος ἐλλίπῃς.

The Call of the Captain

Epictetus compares life to a voyage in which a ship enters a port and a traveler goes ashore but must constantly be on the alert to hear the captain’s signal so as not to be left behind. So also in life, you may have a wife, children (corresponding to the items picked up on shore), but you must also listen to the call of the Stoic god (corresponding to the captain’s call) by focusing on what is in your control and playing your role in the divinely-ordered universe (cf. Ench. 17).

τοῦ πλοίου καθορμισθέντος: gen. absolute; καθορμισθέντος > καθορμίζω, aorist passive participle

ὁδοῦ ... πάρεργον: “as a secondary part of your trip” (Smith 2014); πάρεργον is a neuter noun in apposition to the main clause.

ἀναλέξῃ: > ἀναλέγω, 2 sg. fut. mid. ind. “collect.”

τετάσθαι ... τὴν διάνοιαν ἐπὶ: “keep your attention directed toward”; τετάσθαι, > τείνω, perf. mid. infin.

καλέσῃ: > καλέω, 3 sg. aor. act. subj. in a clause after an implied verb of fearing (G. 610 and 611b; S. 2225): “you must continuously turn around (fearing) that . . . .” Recall that in fear clauses, μή expresses a positive fear that something will happen, while μή οὐ expresses a negative fear that something will not happen.

κἂν καλέσῃ: 3 sg. aor. act. subj. in a conditional + imperative construction

ἀφιέναι: > ἀφίημι, pres. act. infin., which depends on δεῖ in line 2.

ἵνα μὴ δεδεμένος ἐμβληθῇς: “so that you won’t be tied up and thrown in (the ship).” δεδεμένος > δέω perf. pass. part. nom. masc. sg. ἐμβληθῇς > ἐμβάλλω, 2 sg. aor. pass. subj. in a purpose clause (G. 641; S. 2196). As observed in the poem of Cleanthes cited in ch. 53, if you do not want to play your role, you will nevertheless be compelled to do so.

διδῶται: > δίδωμι, 3 sg. pres. pass. subj. in a future more vivid condition (G. 650; S. 2291.3a)

οὐδὲν κωλύσει: “nothing will prevent (you from enjoying them).”

καλέσῃ: 3 sg. aor. act. subj. in a conditional + imperative construction.

ᾖς: > εἰμί, 2 sg. pres. act. subj. in a conditional + imperative construction.

μηδὲ ἀπαλλαγῇς: > ἀπαλλάσσω, 2 sg. aor. pass. subj. in a prohibition (G. 473; S. 1840); μηδέ is here used absolutely, to negate the verb ἀπαλλαγῇς, and not to coordinate two clauses.

μακράν: “far,” adv. acc. (G. 540; S. 1608)

καλοῦντος: gen. absolute (G. 589; S. 2070); supply κυβερνήτου as subject.

μή ... ἐλλίπῃς: > ἐλλείπω, 2 sg. aor. act. subj. in a clause after an implied verb of fearing: “lest you fall short,” i.e., be left behind (G. 610 and 611b; S. 2225)

καθάπερ, adv., just as, as if

πλόος, -οῦς, ὁ, voyage

πλοῖον, -ου, τό, ship

καθορμίζω, καθορμίσω, ἐκαθόρμισα, bring ship into harbor, anchor

ἐξέρχομαι, ἐξελεύσομαι, ἐξῆλθον, to go out, come out

ὑδρεύω, ὑδρεύσω, ὕδρευσα, to fetch water

πάρεργον, -ου, τό, subordinate or secondary business

κοχλίδιον,-ου, τό, small shellfish

ἀναλέγω, ἀναλέξω, ἀνάλεξα, to gather up, pick up

βολβαρίον, -ου, τό, a plant with an edible bulb, purse tassel (muscari comosum)

διάνοια, -ας, ἡ, thought, mind, attention

συνέχως, adv., constantly

ἐπιστρέφω, - στρέψω, -έστρεψα, to turn around, turn to; (mid.) turn oneself around; pay attention

κυβερνήτης, -ου, ὁ, pilot, captain

ἐμβάλλω, ἐμβάλω, ἐνέβαλον, to throw in

πρόβατον, ου, τό, sheep; cattle

γυναικάριον,-ου, τό, little woman > γυνἠ, γυναικός, ἡ

τρέχω, δραμοῦμαι, ἔδραμον, to run

γέρων, -οντος, ὀ, old man

ἀπαλλάσσω, ἀπαλλάξω, ἀπήλλαξα, to set free; (pass.) to be removed, depart

μαρκάν, (adv.) far 

ἐλλείπω, ἐλλείψω, ἔλλιπον, to leave undone, leave behind

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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-7