Do Not Be Vexed

But when you ask for warm water and the slave does not hear, or if he does hear and brings only tepid water, or he is not even found to be in the house, then don't be vexed or burst into a passion. This behavior is not acceptable to the gods.

Epictetus now moves into the relationship between master and slave. In the days of Ancient Rome, this was a crucial question. A large part of the population was made up of slaves.

Paul addresses the slavery issue in Chapter 6 of his Letter to the Ephesians. He first tells the slaves to obey their masters "with a sincere heart". But his precaution to masters carries a heavy responsibility: "Masters, behave in the same way toward your slaves and stop using threats. Remember that you and your slaves belong to the same Master in heaven, who judges everyone by the same standard."

Paul spoke often of the relationships between people, and he always put them in terms of reciprocal duties. He believed that there was a kind of contract between master and slave, husband and wife, parents and children. God would be the arbiter and punish and reward individuals based on their performance of their duties. This view was quite effective if all parties viewed God as their Father.

Chapter 13:

  1. How to Act According to God's Will
  2. Do Not Be Vexed (13a)
  3. Brotherhood of Man (13b)
  4. Morality Trumps Legalism (13c)
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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