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Page 69

THE STOICS : EPICTETUS

'Am I, then, to pass my life amid this tumult ?'
What do you mean by ` tumult '?
'Amid a multitude of men.'
` I dislike retirement, it means solitude ; I dislike a crowd, it means disturbance.'
Say not so, but, if it happens that you live alone or in a small company, call it 'peace' and make a proper use of it : converse with yourself, train your impressions, develop your primary notions. If you chance on a crowd, call it ` games ', ` assembly ', ` festival', and try to share the feast with your fellow men. For what sight is pleasanter for the man who loves his kind than a multitude of men ? We are pleased to see troops of horses or oxen, we delight to see a multitude of ships : does the sight of a multitude of men vex us ?
` Nay, but their clamour overwhelms me.'
Well, that is only a hindrance to your hearing : how does it affect you ? Does it affect your faculty of dealing with your impressions ? Who can hinder you from dealing naturally with the will to get and the will to avoid, the impulse to act and not to act ? What tumult can avail to touch these ?
Only remember these general principles: ` What is mine, what is not mine ? What is given me ? What does God wish me to do now? What does He not wish ?' A little while ago His will was that you should live a quiet life in converse with yourself, and write on these matters, read, listen, prepare yourself : you had sufficient time for this. Now He says to you, 'Now come into the conflict, show us what you have learnt, how you have trained. How long are you going to exercise yourself in solitude ? The time has now come for you to discover whether you are an athlete worthy of victory, or one of those who go about the world suffering continual defeat.' Why, then, are you vexed ? There is no conflict without a crowd : there must be many to train beforehand, many to cry applause, many stewards, many spectators.
` Yes, but I wanted to live a quiet life.'

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Who can hinder you from dealing naturally with what is will to get and what is will to avoid, what is impulse to act and not to act ? What tumult can avail to touch these ? Only remember these general principles: ` What is mine, what is not mine ? What is given me ? What does God wish me to do now? What does He not wish ?' A little while ago His will was that you should live a quiet life in converse with yourself, and write on these matters, read, listen, prepare yourself : you had sufficient time for this. Now He says to you, 'Now come into what is conflict, show us what you have learnt, how you have trained. How long are you going to exercise yourself in solitude ? what is time has now come for you to discover whether you are an athlete worthy of victory, or one of those who go about what is world suffering continual defeat.' Why, then, are you vexed ? 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What do you mean by ` tumult '? 'Amid a multitude of men.' ` I dislike retirement, it means solitude ; I dislike a crowd, it means disturbance.' Say not so, but, if it happens that you live alone or in a small company, call it 'peace' and make a proper use of it : converse with yourself, train your impressions, develop your primary notions. If you chance on a crowd, call it ` games ', ` assembly ', ` festival', and try to share what is feast with your fellow men. For what sight is pleasanter for what is man who loves his kind than a multitude of men ? We are pleased to see troops of horses or oxen, we delight to see a multitude of ships : does what is sight of a multitude of men vex us ? ` Nay, but their clamour overwhelms me.' Well, that is only a hindrance to your hearing : how does it affect you ? Does it affect your faculty of dealing with your impressions ? Who can hinder you from dealing naturally with what is will to get and what is will to avoid, what is impulse to act and not to act ? What tumult can avail to touch these ? Only remember these general principles: ` What is mine, what is not mine ? What is given me ? What does God wish me to do now? What does He not wish ?' A little while ago His will was that you should live a quiet life in converse with yourself, and write on these matters, read, listen, prepare yourself : you had sufficient time for this. Now He says to you, 'Now come into what is conflict, show us what you have learnt, how you have trained. How long are you going to exercise yourself in solitude ? what is time has now come for you to discover whether you are an athlete worthy of victory, or one of those who go about what is world suffering continual defeat.' Why, then, are you vexed ? There is no conflict without a crowd : there must be many to train beforehand, many to cry applause, many stewards, many spectators. ` Yes, but I wanted to live a quiet life.' where is Server.Execute("_SiteMap.asp") %

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