The Ancient Library

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On this page: Ephorus – Epicaste – Epicharmus – Epicheirotonia – Epictetus – Epicurus



intendence of the public treasure. In their capacity of protectors of the public dis­cipline their authority extended itself to the minutest details of private life. In regard to the Helots and P8rioecl it was still more alsolute. Even on a pericecus they could pass sentence of death without trial. (See perkeci.) On important occa­sions a majority of their votes was required. At the end of their annual office, on which they entered at the beginning of the Spartan year or at the time of the autumnal equinox, they were liable to be called to account by their successors. The year was dated by the name of the first Ephor on the board.

EphSrns. A Greek historian, born about 400 B.C. at Cyme, in Asia Minor. He lived to see the invasion of Asia by Alexander the Great in 334. Like Theopompus, he was a pupil of IsOcrates, who, seeing that he was not likely to succeed as a public speaker, persuaded him to write history. He waa the author of a Universal History, which omitted the mythical age, and began with the return of the Heraclidse into the Peloponnese. It treated in thirty books the history of the Greek and barbarian world, during a space of 750 years, ending in 340 B.C. The last book is said to have been completed by his son DemSphJlus. The work was continued in the Alexandrian period by Diyllus of Athens, Psaon of Platsea, and MenSdStus of Perinthus. It was much read and used for the wealth and excellent arrangement of its material, which embraced geography, ethnography, myth­ology, and the history of civilization and literature. It met with much hostile criti­cism, but had its admirers, among whom was Polybius.

Eplcaste. Sec jocasta.

Eplcharnius. A Greek comedian, born in the island of Go's, about 540 b.c. When only a child of three months old he came with his father HelSthales, a physician, to Megara in Sicily, where he died about 450 at the age of 90. Like his father, he is said to have been personally acquainted with Pythagoras, and whether this is so or no, his philosophical attainments were not inconsiderable. It was Epicharmus who gave to the Doric comedy of Sicily its liter­ary form. Thirty-five of his plays, written in the Doric dialect, are known to us by their titles, and a few meagre fragments have survived. They differed from the Attic comedy in having no chorus. Their subjects were taken partly from the stories

of gods and heroes, which they burlesqued and caricatured, and partly from life. The plots seem to have been simple and the action rapid. The philosophical leanings of Epicharmus are shown in numerous say­ings of deep practical wisdom. Plato said that Epicharmus was the prince of comedy, as Homer was of tragedy, a striking testi­mony to the perfection of his compositions in their own line. In his mythical comedy he was imitated by Din815chus of Syracuse,

Eplcheir6t6nia. See ecclesia.

Epictetns (Gr. EpiktStda). A Greek phi­losopher, born at Hl8rap5lis in Phrygia. He lived a long time in Rome as a slave, in the house of Epaphr8ditus, a favourite of Nero. Emancipated by his master, he became a professor of the Stoical system, which he had learned from the lectures of Musonlus Rufus. When the philosophers were expelled from Rome by Domitian in 94 a.d., Epictetus went to NicfipSlis in Epirus, where he lived as the master of a school until the reign of Hadrian (117 A.D.) He formed numerous disciples by free con­versations after the manner of Socrates. Among these was Arrlanus, to whom we owe an account of Epictetus' doctrine, for the master himself left nothing in writing. The main point on which he laid stress was the independence of the human mind of all external circumstances, such being not in our power. This freedom is to be attained by patience and renunciation. The duty of man is to find all his happiness within himself, and the power of which he should be most in awe is the deity in his own breast.

Epicurus (Gr. EplkourOs.} A Greek phi­losopher, founder of the Epicurean school, which was so named after him. He was born 342 B.C. in the Attic deme of Gargettus, and spent his early years in Samos, where his father had settled as a clerflchus. (See colonies, Greek.) While still young he returned to Athens, and there acquired by independent reading a comprehensive know­ledge of previous philosophies. In 310 (o>.tat. 32) he began to teach philosophy, first in Mytllene, and afterwards in Lamp-sacus. After 304 he carried on his pro­fession at Athens. Here he bought a garden, in which he lived in retirement in a very modest and simple style, surrounded by his brother and his friends. He died (b.c. 268, cetat. 74) of calculus, after terrible sufferings. But to the last moment he never lost the tranquil serenity which had characterized his whole life. Such was his

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