The Golden Sayings of Epictetus In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Unraveling the Insights of Epictetus for the Modern Mind

Delve into the profound wisdom of Epictetus, a voice from the ancient world that still resonates with its timeless truths. Yet, deciphering these truths from the classic texts can often be a daunting task.

Enter BookCaps, your guide to unlocking the age-old wisdom in a language that speaks to our modern sensibilities. No more wading through complex sentences or puzzling over archaic phrases. This retelling breathes new life into Euripides' masterpiece, making it as relevant and inspiring today as it was centuries ago.

Whether you're a philosophy enthusiast or a curious reader, BookCaps ensures a seamless journey through the profundities of Epictetus, enlightening and enriching your perspective. Rediscover the ancient classic, revitalized for the contemporary seeker.



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Excerpt From The Golden Sayings of Epictetus In Plain and Simple English


Are these the only works of Providence within us? What words suffice to praise or set them forth? Had we but understanding, should we ever cease hymning and blessing the Divine Power, both openly and in secret, and telling of His gracious gifts? Whether digging or ploughing or eating, should we not sing the hymn to God:--

Great is God, for that He hath given us such instruments to till the ground withal: Great is God, for that He hath given us hands and the power of swallowing and digesting; of unconsciously growing and breathing while we sleep!

Thus should we ever have sung; yea and this, the grandest and divinest hymn of all:--

Great is God, for that He hath given us a mind to apprehend these things, and duly to use them!

What then! seeing that most of you are blinded, should there not be some one to fill this place, and sing the hymn to God on behalf of all men? What else can I that am old and lame do but sing to God? Were I a nightingale, I should do after the manner of a nightingale. Were I a swan, I should do after the manner of a swan. But now, since I am a reasonable being, I must sing to God: that is my work: I do it, nor will I desert this my post, as long as it is granted me to hold it; and upon you too I call to join in this self-same hymn.


Are these the only gifts which God has given us? How can we possibly explain them or praise them enough? If we could only understand them, would we ever stop singing the praises of God and thanking him, both in public and in private, and speaking of his wonderful gifts? Whether we are digging, ploughing or eating, should we not always be singing this hymn:

God is great, because he has given us these tools with which we can work the land: God is great, because he has given us our hands and the ability to eat and digest; he lets us grow and keep breathing whilst we are asleep! 

This is what we should always be singing; yes, and also this, the most wonderful hymn of all:

God is great, because he has given us the brain to understand these things, and the ability to use them!

Well then! Seeing as most of you do not understand this, maybe someone should take your place, and praise God on behalf of all men? I am old and lame, so what else can I do but praise God? If I were nightingale, I would praise him like a nightingale does. If I were a swan, I would do it as a swan does. But since I am a thinking entity, I must sing to God: that is my job: I will do it, and I will not abandon it as long as I have permission to carry on, and I call on you to join in with me.


How then do men act? As though one returning to his country who had sojourned for the night in a fair inn, should be so captivated thereby as to take up his abode there.

"Friend, thou hast forgotten thine intention! This was not thy destination, but only lay on the way thither."

"Nay, but it is a proper place."

"And how many more of the sort there may be; only to pass through upon thy way! Thy purpose was to return to thy country; to relieve thy kinsmen's fears for thee; thyself to discharge the duties of a citizen; to marry a wife, to beget offspring, and to fill the appointed round of office. Thou didst not come to choose out what places are most pleasant; but rather to return to that wherein thou wast born and where wert appointed to ba a citizen."


So how do men behave? They behave like someone coming back to his homeland who had stopped for the night in a nice inn, a place they liked so much that they wanted to live there.

“My friend, you have forgotten what you were doing! This was not your destination, it was just a stop on the way."

“No, but this is a good place."

“And how many more good places might you go through as you go on your way! You intended to go back to your country, so that your family could stop worrying about you, so that you could do your bit as a citizen, so that you can get married, have children, and work as a public official when it was your turn. You didn't go on your journey to find out the most pleasant places, you were intending to go back to where you were born, the place of which you are a citizen." 


Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men.


Try to enjoy all that life has to offer, and share that enjoyment with other men.


But I have one whom I must please, to whom I must be subject, whom I must obey:—God, and those who come next to Him. He hath entrusted me with myself: He hath made my will subject to myself alone and given me rules for the right use thereof.


But there is somebody I must do my best to please, whom I must allow to rule over me, and whom I must obey: that is God, and those who are close to him. He has given me free will, he allows me to rule over myself, and has given me rules so that I will do that in the correct fashion.


Rufus used to say, If you have leisure to praise me, what I say is naught. In truth he spoke in such wise, that each of us who sat there, though that some one had accused him to Rufus:—so surely did he lay his finger on the very deeds we did: so surely display the faults of each before his very eyes.


Rufus used to say, “If you have time to sing my praises, then what I tell you is worthless." This is truly what he said, so that each of us who was there, whoever had been accused, he put his finger on the faults of each one of us.


But what saith God?—"Had it been possible, Epictetus, I would have made both that body of thine and thy possessions free and unimpeded, but as it is, be not deceived:—it is not thine own; it is but finely tempered clay. Since then this I could not do, I have given thee a portion of Myself, in the power of desiring and declining and of pursuing and avoiding, and in a word the power of dealing with the things of sense. And if thou neglect not this, but place all that thou hast therein, thou shalt never be let or hindered; thou shalt never lament; thou shalt not blame or flatter any. What then? Seemth this to thee a little thing?"—God forbid!—"Be content then therewith!"

And so I pray the Gods.


But what does God say? “If it were possible, Epictetus, I would have made both your body and your possessions completely free, but as things are as they are, do not deceive yourself. Your body does not belong to you, it is just well shaped clay. Since I could not make you completely independent, I have given you a part of myself, I have given you the power to desire, to reject, to pursue and to avoid, in other words I have given you the power to deal with everything relating to the senses. And if you don't forget this, but place all your faith in that, nothing will ever stop you; you will never be sad; and you will neither blame nor praise anyone else for what happens to you. What do you think? Do you think this is nothing?"–God forbid!–“So be happy with it!" And so I pray to the Gods.


What saith Antisthenes? Hast thou never heard?— It is a kingly thing, O Cyrus, to do well and to be evil spoken of.


What did Antisthenes say? Did you never hear it? He said, “Oh Cyrus, it is a good thing for a king to do the right thing and to hear men speak badly of him."
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