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On this page: Epictetus – Epicurius – Epicurus

EPICTETUS.

1, 18. 26, iii. 26. 13, iv. 1. 138, 4. 14. 43, "6. 15.) In order to obtain a mastery in the application of moral principles to life, a continued practice is re­ quired ; but this practice is first and chiefly to be directed towards a control of our conceptions, and thereby also of our passions and desires, which are themselves only modes of conception (ii. 18. 1, &c., 29, iv. 10. 26), and as such they press and force us; one person being more under the influence of this kind, and another more under the influence of another kind; for which reason every one, according to his personal peculiarity, must oppose to them a continued practice, (i. 25.. 26, ii. 16. 22.) .This first and most essential practice must be accompa­ nied by a second, which is directed towards that which is appropriate (duty), and a third, the object of which is surety, truth, and certainty; but the latter must not pretend to supplant the former, (iii. 2. 6, 12. 12, &c.) The unerring desire after what is good, the absolute avoidance of what is bad, the desire ever directed towards the appro­ priate, carefully-weighed resolutions, and a full consent to them, are the nerves of the philosopher, (ii. 8. 29.) Through them he acquires freedom and entire independence of everything which is not subject to his choice (iv. 4. 39, iii. 22. 13), and in confiding submission he leaves the manage­ ment of it to Providence, whose universal rule cannot escape the eye of an unbiassed and grateful observer of the occurrences in the world, (i. 6. 9, 4, 12, ] 3, 14, 16, 30, ii. 14. 26, iii. 17.) In this submissive confidence, and the consciousness of its necessity, in order to be able to preserve unchanged our outward peace of mind in all the occurrences of life, in sorrow and in want, we see the spirit of the modern, and we may say, ennobled Porch; the same spirit is expressed in the energy and purity of its sentiments, and in the giving up of principles whose harshness and untenableness arose from the inflexible and abstract consistency of the earlier Porch. •

Epictetus is well aware, that man, as such, is a member of the great cosmic community of gods and men, and also that he is a member of the commu­nities of state and family, and that he stands to them in the same relation as a limb to the whole organic body, and that therefore he can attain his full development only with them. (ii. 5. 26, 10. 3, &c., 2. 19, 13.) He recognizes, the necessity of love and confidence (ii. 22. 4, 1), and he demands of the Cynic, that is, the true philosopher, to re­nounce marriage and family life, only that he may devote himself with all his powers to the service of the deity, and to the duties of an unlimited phi­lanthropy, (iii. 221 67. &c.) It is true that with Epictetus, too, the place of a political system and a considerable portion of ethics, are supplied by the ideal of a philosopher,—but how could a living consciousness of the nature of a state have been formed in his time and in his circumstances? In his endeavours to establish in himself and others a moral standard, unaffected by the corruptions of his age, he does not perceive its close and necessary connexion with the active and unchecked scientific and artistic efforts. But he acknowledges their moral importance more than his predecessors, and he is impressed with the conviction, that the indi­vidual must live for the whole, although-he is not able to determine the how in a manner productive of great results. Above all things, however, he gave up the proud self-sufficiency which the Stoic

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EPICURUS.

philosopher was expected to'shew in his -relation to the vicissitudes of the world and of man. The maxini suffer and abstain (from evil) (Frd'gm. 179 ; comp. Dissert, iv. 8. 25 j Gell. xvii. 19), which he followed throughout his life, was based with him on the firm belief in a wise and benevolent government of Providence; and in this respect he approaches the Christian doctrine more than any of the earlier Stoics, though there is not a trace in the Epictetea to shew that he was acquainted with Christianity, and still less, that he had adopted Christianity, either in part or entirely. (Chr. Crelius, De virepffotyois et dffo<pois Epicteti Dissertat. Lip- siae, 1711—16; comp. Brucker in Temp. Helvet. iii. 2. p. 260.) [CH. A. B.]

EPICTETUS ('ETTiVnjros), a physician men­tioned by Symmachus (Epist. x. 47), who attained to the title and dignity of Archiater in-the. time of Theodosius the Great, A. d. 379-395. [W.A.G.]

EPICURIUS ('EiriKovpios), the helper, a sur­name of Apollo, under which he was worshipped at Bassae in Arcadia. Every year a wild boar was sacrificed to him in his temple on mount Ly-caeus. He had received this surname because he had at one time delivered the country from a pes­tilence. (Paus. viii. 38. § 6, 41. § 5.) [L. S.]

EPICURUS ('ETr/Koypos), a celebrated Greek philosopher and the founder of a philosophical school called after him the Epicurean. He was a son of Neocles and Charestrata, and belonged to the Attic demos of Gargettus, whence he is some­times simply called the Gargettian. (Cic. adFam. xv. 16.) He was born, however, in the island of Samos, in b. g. 342, for his father was one of the Athenian cleruchi, who went to Samos and received lands there. Epicurus spent the first eighteen years of his life at Samos, and then repaired to Athens, in b. c. 323, where Xenocrates was then at the head of the academy, by whom Epicurus is said to have been instructed, though Epicurus himself denied it. (Diog. Lae'rt. x. 13 ; Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 26.) He did not, however, stay at Athens long, for after the outbreak of the Lamian war he went to Colo­phon, where his father was then residing, and en­gaged in teaching. Epicurus followed the example of his father: he collected pupils and is said to have instructed them in grammar, until gradually his attention was drawn towards philosophy.. Epicurus himself asserted that he had entered upon his philosophical studies at the early age of four-, teen, while according to others it was not till five or six years- later. Some said that he was led to. the study of philosophy by his contempt of the rhetoricians and grammarians who were unable to explain to him the passage in Hesiod about Chaos ;' and others said that the first impulse was given to him by the works of Democritus, which fell into his hands by accident. It is at any rate undeniable that the atomistic doctrines of Democritus exer­cised a very great influence upon Epicurus, though he asserted that he was perfectly independent, of all the philosophical schools of the time, and en­deavoured to solve the great problems of life by independent thought and investigation. From Colophon EpicuYtis went to Mytilene and Lamp-: sacus, in which places he was engaged for five years in teaching philosophy. In b. c. 306, when he had attained the a,ge of 35, he again went to Athens. He there purchased far eighty minae a garden—'the famous Kijirot 'E-jriKovpov—which ap­parently was situated in the heart of the city, and in

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