"Yes, but I intend to command your opinions also." And who has given you this power? How can you conquer the opinion of another man? "By applying terror to it," he replies, "I will conquer it." Do you not know that opinion conquers itself, and is not conquered by another? But nothing else can conquer will except the will itself.

This reminds us of the communist states of the last century that worked so hard to impose their ideologies upon their people and the world as a whole. Take for example the "re-education" camps in Cambodia run by the Khmer Rouge. They tried to wipe out religion, freedom and capitalism by sheer terror. The Khmer Rouge killed over 3,000,000 people in this effort, nearly 1/3 of the population of the country, and yet they could not destroy the souls of the individuals and the imposition of a failed philosophy proved abortive in the end.

The book "Enemies of the State", by Donald and Agniezka Critchlow is a series of case studies about people who were persecuted by the Communists during the cold war. It was noted by the authors that the people who held up best to the rigors of prison and torture were the ones who were firm in their religious convictions. A strong belief in Christianity was also what helped Paul in the vivid scene in Acts (Chapter 16) when he was thrown into prison in Philippi. He conducted himself in such a way that even his jailor came to him and asked, "What must I do, sir, to be saved!"

Chapter 29:

  1. On Constancy and Courage
  2. Do Philosophers Despise Kings? (2a)
  3. Opinions (2b)
  4. The Stronger and the Weaker (2c)
  5. Anytus and Meletus (2d)
  6. Superior Principles (2e)
  7. Child-Like Minds (2f)
  8. Like an Athlete (2g)
  9. Facing Adversity (2h)
  10. Might for Right (2i)
  11. Objective Truth (2j)
  12. Exhortation to Action (2k)
  13. The Runaway Slave (2l)
  14. Summary - Stoicism and Christianity (2m)
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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