Like an Athlete

A man must keep this in mind. When he is called to any such difficulty, he should know that the time is come for showing if he has been instructed. For he who is come into a difficulty is like a young man from a school who has practiced the resolution of syllogisms. If any person proposes to him an easy syllogism, he says, "Rather propose to me a syllogism which is complicated that I may exercise myself on it." Even athletes are dissatisfied with slight young men, and say "He cannot lift me." "This is a youth of noble disposition."

Epictetus would have us approach life as an athlete approaches a contest. What we have learned in philosophy helps us to deal with life's blows. If things are too easy then we are not tested. This falls in line with theological thought on one of the reasons humans were put on Earth - to be tested. We pass the test when we face adversity with a happy heart.

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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