Chapter 53

53.1 ἐπὶ παντὸς πρόχειρα ἑκτέον ταῦτα·

«ἄγου δέ μ᾽, ὦ Ζεῦ, καὶ σύ καὶ ἡ Πεπρωμένη,

ὅποι ποθ᾽ ὑμῖν εἰμι διατεταγμένος·

ὡς ἕψομαί γ᾽ ἄοκνος· ἢν δὲ μὴ θέλω

κακὸς γενόμενος, οὐδὲν ἧττον ἕψομαι.» 

53.2 «ὅστις δ᾽ ἀνάγκῃ συγκεχώρηκεν καλῶς, σοφὸς παρ᾽ ἡμῖν καὶ τὰ θεῖ᾽ ἐπίσταται.» 

53.3 «ἀλλ᾽, ὦ Κρίτων, εἰ ταύτῃ τοῖς θεοῖς φίλον, ταύτῃ γενέσθω.» 

53.4 «ἐμὲ δὲ Ἄνυτος καὶ Μέλητος ἀποκτεῖναι μὲν δύνανται, βλάψαι δὲ οὔ.» 

    Quotes to Keep in Mind

    The work concludes with a series of quotations which should be ready at hand for all occasions. With the exception of the quote of Euripides (which is not found in the extant Diss.), Epictetus was fond of quoting these passages in the Diss. The first three deal with yielding to fate, necessity or the will of the gods. From Epictetus’ viewpoint, all of these would involve things outside of one’s control. The last quote, from Plato’s Apology, emphasizes that one cannot suffer external harm, for whether one is good or evil is determined internally. In this respect, the Stoics believed that they were following in the footsteps of Socrates.

    ἐπὶ παντὸς: “on every occasion”

    ἄγου ... διατεταγμένος: this is the fullest version of the famous poem by Cleanthes of Assos (ca. 330 – ca. 230 BC), the second leader of the Stoic school at Athens (other versions: Vetteius Valens 7.2; Seneca Ep. 107.10–12; Augustine in De civitate dei 5.8. See von Arnim, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta 1.527). Epictetus quotes from it four times in Diss.: 2.23.42, 3.22.95 4.1.131, 4.4.34. The meter is iambic trimeter, unusual in that dactylic hexameter is the normal meter of philosophical poetry.

    ἄγου δέ: 2 sg. pres. mid. imper. δέ appears to indicate that this line is not the beginning of the poem. But some scholars maintain that this is a complete poem and that the δέ is inceptive, on which, see Denniston (1954) 172–73.

    καὶ σύ καὶ ἡ: Boter (1999) acknowledges that this part of the line does not scan, but believes that this is what Arrian had in his text. It conforms with the other versions listed above. In Diss. 2.23.42 the second καί is omitted.

    ἡ Πεπρωμένη: > πόρω, perf. mid. part.; supply εἱμαρμένη = “appointed Fate.”

    ὑμῖν: the dative of agent appears with passive verbs usually in the perfect and pluperfect (S. 1488). Agent otherwise is indicated by ὑπό + gen.

    εἰμι διατεταγμένος: > διατάσσω, 1st sg. perf. pass. periphrastic, “I have been appointed,” or “ordained” (S. 599d).

    οὐδὲν ἧττον: “nevertheless,” “none the less.”

    ὅστις ... ἐπίσταται: from a lost tragedy by Euripides, fragment 965 in Kannnicht’s edition.

    συγκεχώρηκεν: > συγχωρέω, “yield,” 3 sg. perf. act. ind.

    σοφὸς: supply ἐστί

    τὰ θεῖ᾽: τὰ θεῖα, “the acts of the gods,” “the course of providence,” LSJ θεῖος A.II.3.

    ἀλλ᾽, ὦ Κρίτων ... γενέσθω: from Plato, Crito 43d, slightly modified

    Κρίτων: Crito, in the Platonic dialogue of the same name, wanted to help Socrates escape from his execution sentence, but Socrates did not accept the offer, maintaining that a citizen must obey the laws of the city in which he was raised. These lines are also cited in Diss. 1.4.24, 1.29.18, 3.22.95 (after the Cleanthes poem) and 4.4.21.

    ταύτῃ: “in this way”

    γινέσθω: 3 sg. pres. dep. imper.

    ἐμὲ δὲ Ἄνυτος ... οὔ: from Plato, Apology 30c–d, modified. The quote is also cited in Diss. 1.29.18, 2.2.15, and 3.23.31.

    Ἄνυτος καὶ Μέλιτος: Anytus and Meletus were the accusers of Socrates.

    οὔ: at the end of the sentence, οὐ receives an accent (S. 180a).

    πρόχειρος,-ον, at hand, readily accessible

    ἑκτέος, -α,-ον, to be held, one must have

    Πεπρωμένη,-ης, ἡ, Fate, Destiny

    ὅποι, to where

    διατάσσω, -τάξω, -έταξα, to appoint

    ἄοκνος, -ον, without hesitation

    συγχωρέω, συγχωρήσω, συνεχώρησα, to yield

    ἐπίσταμαι, ἐπιστήσομαι, ἠπιστήθην, to know

    βλάπτω, βλάψω, ἔβλαψα, to harm, hinder, disable

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    Suggested Citation

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