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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Some Words from Epictetus

Epictetus was a prominent Stoic philosopher in the Roman Empire, born a slave in 55 CE. I've recently read a collection of his writings, translated, summarized, and paraphrased into modern language (warning: very loosely) by Sharon Lebell, in a book called Epictetus: The Art of Living. I came across one passage in particular I wanted to share. It's called, "The Pursuit of Wisdom Attracts Critics":

Those who pursue the higher life of wisdom, who seek to live by spiritual principles, must be prepared to be laughed at and condemned.

Many people who have progressively lowered their personal standards in an attempt to win social acceptance and life's comforts bitterly resent those of philosophical bent who refuse to compromise their spiritual ideals and who seek to better themselves. Never live your life in reaction to these diminished souls. Be compassionate toward them, and at the same time hold to what you know is good.

When you begin your program of spiritual progress, chances are the people closest to you will deride you or accuse you of arrogance.

It is your job to comport yourself humbly and to consistently hew to your moral ideals. Cling to what you know in your heart is best. Then, if you are steadfast, the very people who ridiculed you will come to admire you.

If you allow the mean-spirited opinions of others to make you waver in your purpose, you incur a double shame.


  1. I have that book. :) Thank you for reminding me what I thought I learned awhile back but have to keep reminding myself of.

    (And yeah, I came back. ;))

  2. Great! Thanks for the comment Gail :)