Epictetus: Commitment

In every act observe the things which come first and those which follow…. If you do not, at first you will approach it with alacrity…. but afterward you will be ashamed. A man wishes to conquer the Olympic games…. But observe the things which come first and the things which follow…. You must do everything according to the rule: eat according to strict orders, abstain from delicacies, exercise yourself at appointed times, in heat and cold, you must not drink cold water, nor wine as you choose…. And sometimes you will strain the hand, put the ankle out of joint, swallow much dust, sometimes be flogged, and after all this be defeated. When you have considered all this, if you still choose, go to the contest. If you do not (consider) you will behave like children, who at one time play as wrestlers, another time as flute players…. but with your whole soul you will be nothing at all.

~ Epictetus: Enchiridion (A.D. 55 – A.D. 135)


Imaginary portrait of Epictetus. Engraved frontispiece of Edward Ivie’s Latin translation (or versification) of Epictetus’ Enchiridon, printed in Oxford in 1751. Original title of the book: “Epicteti Enchiridion Latinis versibus adumbratum. Per Eduardum Ivie A. M. Ædis Christi Alumn. […] Oxoniæ, Theatro Sheldoniano, MDCCXV. […]” The subscription is an epigramm from the Anthologia Palatina (VII 676) and reads: Δοῦλος Ἐπίκτητος γενόμην, καὶ σῶμ’ ἀνάπηρος, καὶ πενίην Ἶρος, καὶ φίλος ἀθανάτοις. “I was Epictetus the slave, and not sound in all my limbs, and poor as Irus, and beloved by the gods.” (Irus is the beggar in the Odyssey.) Source: Wikipedia