Epictetus
Epictetus


The Stronger and the Weaker

For this reason, too, the law of God is most powerful and most just. You may say, "Let the stronger always be superior to the weaker. Ten are stronger than one." Ten are stronger than one, for what? For putting in chains, for killing, for dragging whither they choose, for taking away what a man has. The ten therefore conquer the one in this arena in which they are stronger. "In what then are the ten weaker?" If the one possesses right understanding and the others do not. "Well then, can the ten conquer in this matter?" How is it possible? If we were placed in the scales, must not the heavier draw down the scale in which it is set?

In other words, the will of the individual, within the individual is stronger than the will of everyone else combined. My grandfather used to say, "I can out-kick ten men on a Harley!" It sounds rather archaic now in the modern age of push button starters, but at the time, a motorcycle required a kick-start crank and it was not always easy to get it going. This was not an idle boast. What he meant was that it didn't matter how many people were pitted against him, there was only one crank and he would have the diligence and fortitude to kick it until the motorcycle started, and no one could kick start a Harley quicker than he could.

Thus all the immoral opinion in the world should not be enough to sway us from doing what is right. For all of it combined is no stronger than our own will within us.

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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