Chapter 14

14.1 Ἐὰν θέλῃς τὰ τέκνα σου καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ τοὺς φίλους σου πάντως ζῆν, ἠλίθιος εἶ· τὰ γὰρ μὴ ἐπὶ σοὶ θέλεις ἐπὶ σοὶ εἶναι καὶ τὰ ἀλλότρια σὰ εἶναι. οὕτω κἂν τὸν παῖδα θέλῃς μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν, μωρὸς εἶ· θέλεις γὰρ τὴν κακίαν μὴ εἶναι κακίαν, ἀλλ' ἄλλο τι. ἂν δὲ θέλῃς ὀρεγόμενος μὴ ἀποτυγχάνειν, τοῦτο δύνασαι. τοῦτο οὖν ἄσκει ὃ δύνασαι. 14.2 κύριος ἑκάστου ἐστὶν ὁ τῶν ὑπ' ἐκείνου θελομένων ἢ μὴ θελομένων ἔχων τὴν ἐξουσίαν εἰς τὸ περιποιῆσαι ἢ ἀφελέσθαι. ὅστις οὖν ἐλεύθερος εἶναι βούλεται, μήτε θελέτω τι μήτε φευγέτω τῶν ἐπ' ἄλλοις· εἰ δὲ μή, δουλεύειν ἀνάγκη.

Do Not Wish for What Is Not in Your Control

You should not act with the expectation that your children or wife will live forever; for their nature is mortal and therefore they will die. This is to mistake that which is not in your control for that which is in your control.

ἐὰν θέλῃς: > ἐθέλω, 2 sg. pres. act. subj. in a present general condition (G. 650; S. 2295.1). This construction appears two more times in this section.

τὰ … μὴ ἐπὶ σοὶ: “the things that are not in your control”; on the negative see S. 2735.


τὸ περιποιῆσαι ἢ ἀφελέσθαι: art. infin. (G. 574-575; S. 2025) functioning as accusative objects of εἰς, in the sense of “for the purpose of” (LSJ εἰς A.V.2). The earlier genitive phrases τῶν ὑπ' ἐκείνου θελομένων ἢ μὴ θελομένων are dependent on these accusatives: “to achieve or prevent those things which that man wants or does not want.” ἀφελέσθαι: > ἀφαιρέω, aor. mid. infin.

θελέτω ... φευγέτω: 3 sg. pres. act. imper.

τῶν ἐπ' ἄλλοις: “of the things that are in the power (control) of others”

εἰ δὲ μή: “otherwise”

δουλεύειν ἀνάγκη: supply ἐστί.

πάντως, adv., in all ways; always

ἠλίθιος, -α, -ον, foolish

ἀλλότριος, -α, -ον, not one's own, under the control of others

μωρός, -ά, -όν,  foolish

κακία, -ας, ἡ, evil, vice

ὀρέγω, ὀρέξω, ὤρεξα, to desire

ἀποτυγχάνω, ἀποτεύξομαι, ἀπέτυχον, to fail in attaining, miss

ἀσκέω, ἀσκήσω, ἤσκησα, to practice, exercise


ἐξουσία, -ας, ἡ, power, authority

περιποιέω, περιποιήσω, περεποίησα, to achieve, accomplish

δουλεύω, δουλεύσω, ἐδούλευσα, to be a slave

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Suggested Citation

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