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.

    ὀρεγόμενος μὴ ἀποτυγχάνειν: "desiring, to not fail to attain," i.e. "not to fail in getting what you desire"

    τοῦτο οὖν ἄσκει ὃ δύνασαι: "therefore, practice this, (namely, that) which you are able (to control)." See Introduction, "Desire and Aversion."


    ὁ ... ἔχων τὴν ἐξουσίαν: "the one having the power," followed by genitive (as normally) indicating what the person has power over.

    τῶν ὑπ' ἐκείνου θελομένων ἢ μὴ θελομένων: "those things desired or not desired by that man,” genitive phrase after ἐξουσίαν.  

    τὸ περιποιῆσαι ἢ ἀφελέσθαι: "to secure (it) or take (it) away," articular infinitives (G. 574-575; S. 2025) functioning as accusative objects of εἰς, in the sense of “for the purpose of” (LSJ εἰς A.V.2). 

    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.