Discourses

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Mentioned in Small Gods, this is a book written by the Ephebian philosopher Ibid.

Annotation

Parody of the Discourses of the Roundworld Ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus. Philosophy, he taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty of care to all fellow humans. The person who followed these precepts would achieve happiness. An extract from the Discourses follows:

[OF SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF GOD]

Have I ever been restrained from what I willed? Or compelled against my will? How is this possible? I have arranged my pursuits under the direction of God. Is it His will that I should have a fever? It is my will too. Is it His will that I should pursue anything? It is my will too. Is it His will that I should desire? It is my will too. Is it His will that I should obtain anything? It is mine too. Is it not His will? It is not mine. Is it His will that I should be tortured? Then it is my will to be tortured. Is it His will that I should die? Then it is my will to die.

He has given me whatever depends upon choice. The things in my power He has made incapable of hindrance or restraint. But how could He make a body of clay incapable of hindrance? Therefore He hath subjected my body, possessions, furniture, house, children, wife, to the revolution of the universe. He who gave takes away. For whence had I these things when I came into the world?

'But I would enjoy the feast still longer.' So perhaps would the spectators at Olympia see more combatants. But the solemnity is over. Go away. Depart like a grateful and modest person; make room for others.

It carries on in this vein for some time...