EppsNet Archive: Ancient Greece

Defend your right to think. Thinking wrongly is better than not thinking at all. — Hypatia of Alexandria, murdered by a Christian mob in the year 415

Socrates’ Apology

When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, O my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing . . . And if you do this, I and my sons will have received justice at your hands. The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows. — Apology Read more →

You were a fool, and set your thoughts on uncertainties. Why then do you not accuse yourself, instead of sitting crying like young girls? — Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Ch. 10

What Would Heracles Have Been?

What would Heracles have been if he had said, “How am I to prevent a big lion from appearing, or a big boar, or brutal men?” What care you, I say? If a big boar appears, you will have a greater struggle to engage in; if evil men appear, you will free the world from evil men. “But if I die thus?” You will die a good man, fulfilling a noble action. — Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Ch. 10 Read more →

Not Even a God Can Save You

What greater good do you look for than this? You were shameless and shall be self-respecting, you were undisciplined and shall be disciplined, untrustworthy and you shall be trusted, dissolute and you shall be self-controlled. If you look for greater things than these, go on doing as you do now, not even a god can save you. — Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Ch. 9 Read more →

You Are at Peace With All Men

Why do you not come forward and openly proclaim that you are at peace with all men, whatever they do, and that you laugh above all at those who think that they are harming you? saying, “These slaves do not know who I am, nor where to find what is good or bad for me, for they have no way of getting at my position.” — Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Ch. 5 Read more →

There is But One Way to Peace of Mind

There is but one way to peace of mind (keep this thought by you at dawn and in the daytime and at night) — to give up what is beyond your control, to count nothing your own, to surrender everything to heaven and fortune. — Epictetus, Discourses, Book IV, Ch. 4 Read more →

The True Cynic

“Look at me, I have no house or city, property or slave: I sleep on the ground, I have no wife or children, no miserable palace, but only earth and sky and one poor cloak. Yet what do I lack? Am I not quit of pain and fear, am I not free? When has any of you ever seen me failing to get what I will to get, or falling into what I will to avoid? When did I blame God or man, when did I accuse any? Has any of you seen me with a gloomy face? How do I meet those of whom you stand in fear and awe? Do I not meet them as slaves? Who that sees me but thinks that he sees his king and master?” There you have the true Cynic’s words; this is his character, and scheme of life. — Epictetus, Discourses Ch.… Read more →

In What Then Does the Good Reside?

It is where you think not, and will not seek for it. For if you had wished you would have found it in yourselves and would not have wandered outside and would not have sought the things of others as your own. — Epictetus, Discourses, Book III, Ch. 22 Read more →

Do Not Withhold the Truth

Did Laius obey Apollo? Did he not go away in his drunken stupor and dismiss the oracle from his mind? What then? Did Apollo withhold the truth from him for that reason? Indeed I do not know whether you will obey me or not, but Apollo knew most certainly that Laius would not obey, and yet he spoke. Why did he speak? Nay, why is he Apollo, why does he give oracles, why has he set himself in this position, to be a Prophet and a Fountain of truth, so that men from all the world come to him? Why is “Know thyself” written up over his shrine, though no one understands it? — Epictetus, Discourses, Book III, Ch. 1 Read more →

Aimilianos Monai, Alexandrian, A.D. 628-655

Out of talk, appearance, and manners I will make an excellent suit of armor; and in this way I will face malicious people without feeling the slightest fear or weakness. They will try to injure me. But of those who come near me none will know where to find my wounds, my vulnerable places, under the deceptions that will cover me. So boasted Aimilianos Monai. One wonders if he ever made that suit of armor. In any case, he did not wear it long. At the age of twenty-seven, he died in Sicily. — C.P. Cavafy, “Aimilianos Monai, Alexandrian, A.D. 628-655” Read more →

Plato in 90 Minutes

I’ve never gotten anything out of trying to read Plato, and yet you keep hearing that he’s essential to an understanding of man’s existence, so I thought I’d check out a secondary source for guidance: Plato in 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern. I’m on page 10 when my son says, “That’s taken you longer than 90 minutes.” He looks over to see how far I’ve gotten. “Page 10,” he scoffs. “It’s not 90 minutes from when you buy the book,” I say. “You understand that, right? You have to give me some time to actually read it.” Read more →