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EPICTETUS THE STOIC PHILOSOPHER.
1. His life and time. II. A story representing his great
patience. III. That he was learned. IV. A general account of the stoic principles. V. Of Arrian, who drew up the Enchiridion, and Discourses of Epictetus. VI. Passages in Epictetus relating to the Christians, with remarks and observations.
I. EPICTETUSa was a celebrated stoich philosopher. But there are not many particulars of his life that are known with certainty. He is in Suidas: and I shall take the historical part of his article for my text.
Epictetus,' says thato author, ó born at Hierapolis in Phrygia, a philosopher, was slave of Epaphroditus, one of * the emperor Nero's body guards. He was lame in one ·leg, occasioned by a defluxion. He dwelt at Nicopolis, a ' city of New Epirus; and reached to the time of Marcus • Antoninus. He wrote many things.
Epictetus, born at Hierapolis in Phrygia :' which I do not think to be certain. And I have observed thata divers learned men speak doubtfully of this particular, as not entirely relying upon the authority of Suidas.
The names and quality of his parents are no where mentioned.
• He was a slave of Epaphroditus, one of Nero's body 'guards, and e was lame in one leg, occasioned by a defuxion.'
That Epictetus was for some while a slave, and always poor, and likewise lame, are things attested by many ancient writers, and need not to be disputed. They are mentioned byf Aulus Gellius, who was contemporary with our philo
a Vid. Fabr. Bib. Or. l. 4. c. 7. Tom. 3. p. 257, &c. Tillemont Adrien. art. XX.
Epictetus Stoicorum vel maximus. Ap. A. Gell. I. 1. c. 2. Maximus Philosophorum. Ib. I. 17. cap. xix.
c V. Επικτητος. . Natum Hierapoli Phrygiæ tradunt. Lips. citat. in notis ad A. G. 1. 1. c. 2. On le fait natif de Hiéraple en Phrygie. Tillem. ut supr.
Πηρωθεις δε το σκελος υπο ρευματος. Suid. i De Epicteto autem, philosopho nobili, quod is quoque servus fuit, recentior est memoria, quam ut scribi quasi obliteratum debuerit. Ejus Epicteti etiam de se scripti duo versus feruntur
Δολος Επικτητος γενομην, και σωματι πηρος,
Και πενιην Ιρος, και φιλος αθανατους. A. G. 1. 2. c. 18. Et Macrob. 1. 1. c. xi. sub fin.
sopher, but survived him: who mentions a short Greek epigram, which he also ascribes to Epictetus himself, to this purpose :
· A slave, in body maim'd, as Irus poor :
Simplicius, whose authority is very good, says that Epictetus was a slave, of an infirm constitution, and lame * from early age; and so well satisfied with extreme po• verty, that his small house at Rome needed no securities,
having nothing in it but his couch and mattress, upon · which he lay.
Hence I think it may be collected that, while Epictetus lived at Rome, he was, for some time at least, a freeman, and had a house of his own. And it may be supposed that there were some who were willing to support him, and furnish him with such things as were necessary. This may be argued also from some preceding words of Simplicius, where, having represented a like case, he says: "Who would not be wil• ling to maintain such a one, at the same time thinking that le rather receives than confers a benefit?'
In another place of the same work Simplicius says: 'The i • admirable Épictetus for the greatest part of his life dwelt • alone: but afterwards (or in his advanced age] he was at• tended by a woman, whom he took to nurse a child, which • he intended to bring up, and which otherwise a friend of • his, who was very poor, would have exposed.'
Though Simplicius mentions no other furniture of this philosopher's house beside a couch and mattress, undoubtedly there was also a lamp; which, as we learn from k Lucian, was sold after his death for three thousand drachms, or a hundred pounds of our money : which high price, however, was not owing to the value of the materials, for it was earthen; but the reputation of the proprietor.
Epictetus himself refers to his lamenessl several times. And Origen supposeth him to have been a slave.
Suidas says that • Epaphroditus" was one of Nero's body8 Οτε αυτος ο ταυτα λεγων Επικτητος και δελος ην, και το σωμα ασθενης, και χωλος εκ νεας ηλικιας, και πενιαν ακροτάτην επετηδευσεν, ώς το εν Ρωμη οικημα αυτ8 μηδεποτε κλειθρο δεηθήναι, ότι μηδεν ενδον εχον, ει μη την σιβαδα Kal tnv pladov, ed' úv ekaðɛvda. Siinpl. in Epictet. Ench. cap. 13. p. 102.
Τις γαρ εκ αγαπα τρεφειν τον τοιοτον, λαμβανειν χαριν μαλλον ηπερ διδοναι νομιζων. Ιb. p. 102.
i Ibid. cap. 46. p. 272. k Adv. Indoct. p. 336. T. 2. Græv.
Ap. Arrian. l. 1. c. 8. sub fin, et c. 16. sub fin. Cantabr. 1655.
m Contr. Cels. 1. 3. p. 144. Των σωματοφυλακων το βασιλεως Νερωνος. .
al. sect. 54.
'guards :' by whicho some have understood chamberlain : and others, from this place of Suidas, as I apprehend, have been led to think he was captain of the guard, or præfectus prætorio: which must be a mistake. Suetonius 9 calls him master of the requests. For certain he wası Nero's freed-man, and one of his favourites, He is generally supposed to be the same to whom Josephus inscribed bis Jewish Antiquities, and of whom he speaks honourably.
But I think it doubtful whether Epictetus ever was his slave. It is certain,' sayss Tillemont, that he was a slave. • Suidas says he was slave of Epaphroditus, one of Nero's · body-guards.' Of this last particular therefore he speaks doubtfully.
Epictetus has thricet mentioned Epaphroditus in his Discourses, recorded by Arrian. In one of those places he calls Epaphroditus Nero's freed-man; and tells a story very disadvantageous to his character, exposing him to contempt and ridicule. And it is manifestly fictitious; in part at least. But would Epictetus treat Epaphroditus in that manner if he had been his master and had made him free? Moreover, if Epictetus's master had been so great, and so well known a person as Epaphroditus, he would have been sometimes called his freed-man, as Epaphroditus is called Nero's, and Phlegonu Adriau's: and Stephanus Byzantinus, under the word Bithynion, says it' was the native place • of Pinytus, who taught grammar at Rome; who was the • freed-man of Epaphroditus, as he was Nero's:' not now to add any more like instances.
· He dwelt at Nicopolis, a city of New Epirus.'
We know, from Suetonius and other authors, that in the reign of Domitian, about the year of Christ 94, the philosophers were ordered by a decree of the senate to depart from Rome and Italy. Among them was Epictetus, who then went to Nicopolis, and taught philosophy there. • Epaphroditi, qui libertus et cubicularius Neronis. Fabr. B. Gr. T.
p Capitaine des gardes de Neron. Morery. ? --A libellis. Sueton. Neron. c. 49. Domitian. c. 14. Ann. 1. 15. cap. 55.
s Il est certain, qu'il a été esclave. Suidas dit, qu'il le fut d'Epaphrodite, garde du corps de Neron. Ibid.
+ Ap. Arrian. 1. 1. c. 1. et 19. et 26. Cantabr. 1655. Spartian. Adrian. c. 16. et Phot. cod. 97.
Αφ' 8 Πινυτος εγενετο, Ρωμης γραμματικος, Επαφροδιτε τα Νερωνος ων εξελευθερος. Steph. Byz.
- Philosophos omnes Urbe Italiảque submovit. Sueton. Domit. 10. Neque illis solum temporibus, nimis rudibus, necdum Græcà doctrinâ expolitis, Philosophi ex urbe Româ expulsi sunt. Verum etiam, Domitiano imperante, senatûsconsulto ejecti, atque Urbe et Italiâ interdicti sunt. Quâ tempestate Epictetus quoque Philosophus propter senatûsconsultum Nicopolin Româ decessit. A. Gell. 1. 15. cap. xi.
Epictetus may refer to this banishment of the philosophers, when some of them, as may be supposed, to conceal their character and avoid the public resentment, took off their beards.
That Nicopolis was the place of his abode, is expressly said y by himself, once at least, in bis Discourses, preserved by Arrian; and it is implied in what he says in a several other places.
• He reached to the time of Marcus Antoninus.'
And to the like purposea Themistius. Nevertheless, there are divers learned b men who do not assent to this: and what they said is of no small weight: for they observe that he is not mentioned bye Marcus himself, nor byd others, among those philosophers by whose instructions he had been benefited, and who were cherished and favoured by him. And that emperor himself acknowledgeth bis obligations to Junius Rusticuse for procuring him a sight of Epictetus's Discourses.
Epictetus is mentioned' by Spartan among those philosophers to whom Adrian showed great regard. If that be true, Epictetus must have lived to his time. And some have hence argued that he returned to Rome. But I rather think he never left Nicopolis after he had settleds there. And he might receive marks of esteem from Adrian without going to Rome.
His own discourses, as seems to me, afford the best help for settling his time. In the second book he says there is was then war between the Romans and the Getes, or Da. cians. According to a computation formerlyi made, Trajan's wars with the Dacians lasted five years, beginning in the year 100 or 101, and ending in 105 or 106. In thek third book he speaks of there being then peace all over the Roman empire; which may be that time of profound and general tranquillity which succeeded the victories and triumphs over that people. In the fourth book Trajan is men
Αγε 8ν, Επικτητε, διαξυρησαι κ. λ. Arrian. 1. i. c. 2. p. 89. Υ -Ος οικω εν Νικοπολει. L. 2. c. 6. p. 184. 19. fin. et c. 25. p. 147. 1. 4. c. 1. p. 376.
Or. 5. p. 93. b Salmus. Animadv. in Epictet. et Simp. p. 1-4. Gataker. ad M. Antonin. 1. 8. cap. 31. Kuster. Ann. in Suid. V. ETIKTITOG. Fabr. et Tillem. ut supra. c De Rebus suis, cap. 2, 3.
d Vid. J. Capitolin. M. Anton Phil.
€ Και το εντυχειν τοις Επικτητιoις υπομνημασιν, ών OLKODev jetEdwre. De Reb. suis. I. 1. sect. 7.
f In summâ familiaritate Epictetum et Heliodorum habuit. Spart. Adrian. cap. 16.
& Nec post id tempus Romam illum puto rediisse, sed ibi mortem obiisse. Salmas. ib. p. 4. h Και νυν Ρωμαιοι προς Τετας. L. 2. c. 22. p. 244.
i See before, p. 19. k L. 3. c. 13. p. 292. χαρακτηρα τα το τετρασσαρον; Τραιαν8. L. 4. c. 5. p. 390. Cant. p. 602. Upt.
z L. i. c. 10. et
tioned by name; and it may be supposed that he was then livlig: which may induce us to think that all the philosophical discourses of Epictetus, recorded by Arrian, were spoken before the end of that emperor's reign.
It is allowed that Epictetus lived to old age. He is called an old man min A. Gellius and" Lucian. He speaks of himself aso an old man in the first book of his Discourses.
It is generally allowed by learned men thatp Arrian did not publish the Discourses of Epictetus till after his de
It is manifest that Epictetus was dead when ? A. Gellius published his Noctes Atticæ. And Arrian's Collection was abroad in the world when A. Gellius studied at Athens : which, probably, was in the time of Adrian. Consequently Epictetus did not survive Trajan, or, however, not long. Lucian, who flourished in the time of M. Antoninus, speaking of the person who bought Epictetus's lamp after his death, says, · he wass one of our time,
and might be still living :' which implies that the purchase had been made some good while before. All the discourses of Epictetus, which we have, were delivered at Nicopolis, as ist manifest. And from his settlement in that city to the death of Trajan, in the year 117, or thereabout, must be reckoned the time when he chiefly flourished.
Le Clerc, in his Ecclesiastical History, speaks of Epictetus at the year
of Christ 104: which is not at all amiss, as must appear from what has been just said. But, as my observations may relate to the whole collection of his discourses, soine of which might be spoken later, I have chosen to place him at the twelfth of Trajan, and the one hundred and ninth year of our Lord.
• He wrote many things ;' which will be considered by and by.
II. Having now gone over what is said by Suidas, we m L. i. c. 2.
-TW BavuasŲ EKELVŲ yepovti. Adv. Indoct. T. 2. p. 386.
-Γερων χωλος. L. 1. c. 16. fin. P Atqui non eos videtur composuisse, nisi post mortem Epicteti. Salmas. in Epict. et Sirnp. p. 4.-Illas dissertationes habuit, quas in literas deinde ipso defuncto retulit Arrianus. Fabr. ut Supr. p. 259. Et notabis, jam Epictetum tum decessisse, cum Enchiridion hoc Messalino inscriberet Arrianus. Salmas. ib. p. 5.
9 A. G. 1. 2. c. 18. i-Jussitque (Herodes Atticus) proferri Dissertationem Epicteti digestarum ab Arriano, secundum librum, in quo venerandus ille senex. A. G. I. i. c. 2. Atque ibi coram ex sarcinulâ suâ librum protulit Epicteti philosophi,
quintum Alaletewv, quas ab Arriano digestas congruere scriptis Zenonis et Chrysippi non dubium est. Id. 1. 19. cap. 1.
Οπε καθ' ημας αυτ8ς εγενετο τις, και ετι εςιν, οιμαι. Τ. 2. p. 386.
t Et profecto omnes ejus sermones ac dissertationes, quas scripto mandavit Arrianus, quæque hodie exstant, Nicopoli habitæ sunt. Salmas, ut supr. p. 4.