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The Discourses of Epictetus, tr. by P.E Matheson, [1916], at



When you accuse Providence, only consider the matter, and you will understand that its action is according to reason.

'But the unjust man', you say, 'is better off.'

In what? In money: for in regard to this he has the advantage over you, because he flatters, is shameless, is vigilant. Is this surprising? But

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look whether he is better off than you in being trustworthy and self-respecting. You will find that he is not; where you are superior to him, you will find that you are better off. So when some one was indignant once at the prosperity of Philostorgos, I said, 'Would you be willing to share the bed of Suras?' 'May that day never come!' he said. 'Why then are you indignant at his getting a return for what he sells, or how do you come to count him blessed who gets what he has by means that you abhor? Or what is the harm in Providence giving the better lot to those who are better? Is it not better to be self-respecting than to be rich?'

He agreed.

Man, why are you indignant then at having the better lot? Therefore always remember the truth and be ready to apply it—that it is a law of nature for the better to have the advantage of the worse in that in which he is better, and then you will never be indignant.

'But my wife uses me ill.'

Very well: if any one asks you, 'What is the matter?' say, 'My wife uses me ill.'

'Nothing else?'


'My father gives me nothing' ... but need you go further in your own mind and add this lie, that poverty is evil? For this reason it is not poverty that we must cast out, but our judgement about poverty, and so we shall be at peace.

Next: Chapter XVIII. That We Must Not Allow News to Disturb Us