Epictetus
Epictetus


Where Tranquility Arises

What then does Chrysippus teach us? The answer is, "to know that these things are not false, from which happiness comes and tranquility arises. Take my books. You will learn that the things which make me free from perturbations are conformable to nature." O great good fortune! O the great benefactor who points out the way! To Triptolemus all men have erected temples and altars because he gave us food by cultivation. But to him who discovered truth and brought it to light and communicated it to all, not the truth which shows us how to live, but how to live well, who of you has built an altar, or a temple, or has dedicated a statue, or who worships God for this? Because the gods have given the vine, or wheat, we sacrifice to them. But because they have produced in the human mind that fruit by which they designed to show us the truth which relates to happiness, shall we not thank God for this?

Epictetus reminds us that books and study do have a purpose. They do show us the way to goodness in Stoic Philosophy, just as the Bible and Bible Study points out the way to happiness and salvation. The understanding of these things is an important first step, but not an end in itself.

Epictetus makes a final comment on the nature of study. He uses Triptolemus as an example. In Greek Mythology, Triptolemus was the person who discovered agriculture. The Greeks considered that he had given them the means to a better life. Indeed, the material things do make us more comfortable, and we should be thankful for this. But, Epictetus points out, we really should be thankful for our capacity to understand what true happiness is, and for Christians, the capacity to understand and implement the message of Jesus. We should thank God for the Spirit in our Souls.

Bible study is a tool, like tools used in agriculture. It is how our minds use these tools that is important.

Chapter 4:

  1. On Progress or Improvement
  2. Chrysippus (4a)
  3. Evidence of Progress (4b)
  4. Withdrawing from Externals (4c)
  5. Where Tranquility Arises (4d)
Stoicism and Christianity Index

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This is a translation and explanation of the first book of the Discourses of Epictetus. His words are in regular text, comments are in bold.

Biographical Information on Epictetus


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