The Lamp of Epictetus - PDF Book by Edward Jacomb

The Lamp of Epictetus 

The Lamp of Epictetus

This book is a translation of the discourse of Epictetus 

In more than one list of the World's Hundred, Best Books will be found included the Encheiridion or Manual of Epictetus. Epictetus himself wrote nothing, and we owe the Manual and four books of Lectures (four others being lost) to one of his pupils, Flavius Arrianus of Nicomedia (who subsequently became Consul and Governor of Cappadocia and a noted historian under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, circa A.D. 140). 

Epictetus was born about A.D. 50 and died some Mighty years later. He was the son of a slave woman and was himself, in his youth and until freed, slave to one Epaphroditus, himself a freedman, but who had Attained high position (and who was subsequently executed for aiding Emperor Nero to commit suicide). He learned his philosophy from the Stoic philosopher Musonius Rufus, and, after obtaining his freedom, apparently began teaching in Rome till Emperor Domitian in A.D. 90 banished all philosophers from that city. 

He then took up his residence in and transferred his teaching activities to Nicopolis, a town of Epirus, built by Augustus opposite Actium after his naval defeat of Cleopatra and Anthony there in 31 B.C. (not to be confused with the Nicopolis in Macedonia where St. Paul wrote that he proposed wintering circa A.D. 65). 

Like his Master Rufus, he was a Stoic. His teachings are so clearly set forth in the Lectures and Manual that no resume of them is necessary. The various philosophies of Rome in the first and second centuries of the Christian era may all be said to have sprung from Socrates ( 400 B.C., in his seventieth year). Socrates had as one of his pupils Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynics at Athens. Diogenes of Sinope, the famous Cynic, was a pupil of Antisthenes and teacher of Crates of Boeotia. (Dio- genes died in 324 B.C., aged 95.) Crates taught Zeno, the founder of Stoicism (who came from Citium in Cyprus, who taught in Athens, and who died in 264 B.C., aged 97). 

His followers were called Stoics be- cause Zeno lectured in the Great Hall, the Stoa. Other famous Stoics were Chrysippus, Euphrates, Seneca, and Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. 

These Lectures of Epictetus are not a work of imagination. I was one of his pupils and I used to attend his lectures and take notes, and they are my lecture notes which I have furbished up as best I may. So you must take what follows, not as a studied literary composition written with an eye to future generations, but merely as fragments of casual conversations. 

Still, they reveal the bent of his thought in all its frankness and mordant humour. What the Master wanted was to make us reflect seriously on those things that are most worth reflecting about; you may be sure that listening to him we could not help doing so. I wrote them down primarily for my own use, but I feel that they may also be of service to others. Yours in all sincerity.

I think that the author called the book Lamp: because of the story of the stolen lamp of Epictutes:  
I keep an iron lamp by the side of my household gods, and, on hearing a noise at the window, I ran down. I found that the lamp had been stolen. I reflected that the man who stole it was moved by no unreasonable motive. What then? Tomorrow, I say, you will find one of earthenware. Indeed, a man loses only that which he already has.”



Author: Epictetus
Translator: Edward Jacomb
Publication Date 1938

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