Chapter 12

12.1 εἰ προκόψαι θέλεις, ἄφες τοὺς τοιούτους ἐπιλογισμούς· «ἂν ἀμελήσω τῶν ἐμῶν, οὐχ ἕξω διατροφάς·» «ἃν μὴ κολάσω τὸν παῖδα, πονηρὸς ἔσται.» κρεῖσσον γάρ ἐστι λιμῷ ἀποθανεῖν ἄλυπον καὶ ἄφοβον γενόμενον ἢ ζῆν ἐν ἀφθόνοις ταρασσόμενον· κρεῖσσον δὲ καὶ τὸν παῖδα κακὸν εἶναι ἢ σὲ κακοδαίμονα. 12.2 ἄρξαι τοιγαροῦν ἀπὸ τῶν σμικρῶν. ἐκχεῖται τὸ ἐλάδιον, κλέπτεται τὸ οἰνάριον· ἐπίλεγε ὅτι «τοσούτου πωλεῖται ἀπάθεια, τοσούτου ἀταραξία· προῖκα δὲ οὐδὲν περιγίνεται.» ὅταν δὲ καλῇς τὸν παῖδα, ἐνθυμοῦ ὅτι δύναται μὴ ὑπακοῦσαι ἢ ὑπακούσας μηδὲν ποιῆσαι ὧν θέλεις· ἀλλ' οὐχ οὕτως ἐστὶν αὐτῷ καλῶς ἵνα ἐπ' ἐκείνῳ ᾖ τὸ σὲ μὴ ταραχθῆναι.

If I Don't Do This ...

If you worry about future outcomes regarding matters outside your control, you will be disturbed and lose your peace of mind.

προκόψαι: for Epictetus, those who are progressing in philosophy are keeping their prohairesis in accordance with nature, distinguishing what is and is not in their control. See Diss. 1.4.18 ff. for a fuller description of “those making progress.”

ἀμελήσω ... κολάσω: 1 sg. aor. act. subj. in a future more vivid condition (G. 650; S. 2291.3a)

ἄφες: > ἀφίημι, 2 sg. pres. act. imper.  

κρεῖσσον γάρ ἐστι ... ἀποθανεῖν: supply σε as the acc. subject of the infin. The participles γενόμενον and ταρασσόμενον agree with this implied σε.

λιμῷ: dative of means or instrument (G. 526a; S.1503)

ἐν ἀφθόνοις: “in plenty,” “amid luxury”

κρεῖσσον: supply ἐστί again. καί = “also”


ἄρξαι: > ἄρχω, 2 sg. aor. mid. imper. For the phrase, see ch. 3 ἀπὸ τῶν σμικροτάτων ἀρξάμενος and note.

τοσούτου … ἀταραξία: “freedom from passion is sold at such a cost, calmness is sold at such a cost” = “this is the price of freedom from passion, etc.” τοσούτου is a gen. of price (G. 513; S. 1372). Cf. Diss. 4.3.7–8.

ἐνθυμοῦ: > ἐνθυμέομαι, 2 sg. pres. mid. imper.

ὧν: a full version of the phrase would read ποιῆσαι μηδὲν (τούτων ἃ) θέλεις; the antecedent (τούτων) has been omitted (G. 614; S. 2509) and the relative pronoun ἃ has been attracted to genitive ὧν, which would be the case of that missing antecedent (G. 613b; S. 2522).

οὐχ οὕτως ἐστὶν αὐτῷ καλῶς: “it is not so well for him,” i.e., “he is not in so fine a position.” ἔχω + adv. indicates a state of being.

ἵνα ἐπ' ἐκείνῳ ᾖ: “that is is up to him,” “that it is in his control.” For ἐπί + dat. = “in the control of,” or “up to” somebody, see ch. 1.1.

ᾖ: > εἰμί, 3 sg. pres. act. subj. in a result clause introduced by ἵνα, a Koine usage. See Bauer, The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, ἵνα II.2.

τὸ σὲ μὴ ταραχθῆναι: “your not being disturbed” = “your peace of mind,” art. infin. serving as the subject of ᾖ (G. 574-575; S. 2025); ταραχθῆναι > ταράσσω, aor. pass. infin.

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

ἐπιλογισμός, -οῦ, ὁ, reasoning, thought

ἀμέλω, ἀμελήσω, ἠμέλησα, to neglect + gen.

διατροφή, -ῆς, ἡ, means of support, sustenance

κολάζω, -σω, ἐκόλασα, to punish

πονηρός, -ά, -όν, (morally) bad, wicked

λιμός, -οῦ, ὁ, hunger

ἄλυπος, -ον, without pain or distress

ἄφοβος, -ον, without fear

ἄφθονος, -ον, abundant, plentiful, luxurious

ταράσσω, ταράξω, ἐτάραξα, to trouble, disturb

κακοδαίμων, -ον, miserable, unhappy


τοιγαροῦν, therefore

ἐκχέω, ἐκχεῶ, ἐξέκεα, to pour out, waste

ἐλάδιον, -ου, τό, a little oil

κλέπτω, κλέψομαι, ἔκλεψα, steal

οἰνάριον, -ου, τό, a little wine

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

πωλέω, πωλήσω, ἐπώλησα, to sell, offer for sale (+ gen. of price)

ἀπάθεια, -ας, ἡ, freedom from passion

ἀταραξία, -ας, ἡ, calmness, tranquility

προῖκα, (adv.) for free, without price

περιγίγνομαι, περιγενήσομαι, περεγενόμην, to be a result or consequence, to arise

ἐνθυμέομαι, -θυμήσομαι, -εθυμήθην, to lay to heart, consider

ὑπακούω, ὑπακούσομαι, ὑπάκουσα, to listen

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Suggested Citation

Albert Watanabe, Epictetus: Encheiridion. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2020. ISBN: 978-1-947822-13-9.