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Épictète

Date de naissance: 50 ap. J.-C.
Date de décès: 138
Autres noms: Epiktétos z Hierápole

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Épictète, en grec ancien Ἐπίκτητος / Epíktêtos, qui signifie « homme acheté, serviteur », était un philosophe de l’école stoïcienne. Sa vie est relativement peu connue, et il ne laissa aucune œuvre écrite de sa main. Son disciple Arrien assura la transmission de son œuvre en publiant les notes prises lors des leçons de son maître, en huit livres, dont la moitié sont aujourd'hui perdus, ainsi qu'un condensé de doctrine morale, le Manuel, textes qui eurent une influence certaine sur Marc Aurèle.

Épictète met fortement en avant la partie éthique de la philosophie. Bien qu'il enseigne également la logique stoïcienne, il insiste fortement sur la prépondérance de l'action, et sa philosophie est avant tout pratique. Fidèle aux conceptions traditionnelles de l'école du portique, il présente l'Homme comme soumis au destin ordonné par les dieux. Son enseignement se veut une méthode pour atteindre le bonheur par l'ataraxie, la paix de l'âme en acceptant, avec courage et amour, tout décret du destin inexorable, en accomplissant loyalement son devoir en dépit des circonstances, et en agissant avec bienveillance envers les autres Hommes.

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Citations Épictète

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„They swear to hold no other dearer than Cæsar: you, to hold our true selves dearer than all else beside.“

—  Epictetus
Context: But' you say, 'I cannot comprehend all this at once.' —Why, who told you that your powers were equal to God's? Yet God hath placed by the side of each a man’s own Guardian Spirit, who is charged to watch over him—a Guardian who sleeps not nor is deceived. For to what better or more watchful Guardian could He have committed each of us? So when you have shut the doors and made a darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone; for you are not alone, but God is within, and your Guardian Spirit, and what light do they need to behold what you do? To this God you also should have sworn allegiance, even as soldiers unto Cæsar. They, when their service is hired, swear to hold the life of Cæsar dearer than all else: and will you not swear your oath, that are deemed worthy of so many and great gifts? And will you not keep your oath when you have sworn it? And what oath will you swear? Never to disobey, never to arraign or murmur at aught that comes to you from His hand: never unwillingly to do or suffer aught that necessity lays upon you... They swear to hold no other dearer than Cæsar: you, to hold our true selves dearer than all else beside. (37).

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„If any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone. For God hath made man to enjoy felicity and constancy of good.“

—  Epictetus
Context: If any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone. For God hath made man to enjoy felicity and constancy of good. (122).

„He has disposed that there should be“

—  Epictetus
Context: True instruction is this: —to learn to wish that each thing should come to pass as it does. And how does it come to pass? As the Disposer has disposed it. Now He has disposed that there should be summer and winter, and plenty and dearth, and vice and virtue, and all such opposites, for the harmony of the whole. (26).

„Keep death and exile daily before thine eyes, with all else that men deem terrible, but more especially Death. Then wilt thou never think a mean thought, nor covet anything beyond measure.“

—  Epictetus
Context: Keep death and exile daily before thine eyes, with all else that men deem terrible, but more especially Death. Then wilt thou never think a mean thought, nor covet anything beyond measure. (161).

„When you have decided that a thing ought to be done, and are doing it, never shun being seen doing it, even though the multitude should be likely to judge the matter amiss. For if you are not acting rightly, shun the act itself; if rightly, however, why fear misplaced censure?“

—  Epictetus
Context: When you have decided that a thing ought to be done, and are doing it, never shun being seen doing it, even though the multitude should be likely to judge the matter amiss. For if you are not acting rightly, shun the act itself; if rightly, however, why fear misplaced censure? (172).

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„Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words.“

—  Epictetus
Context: Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words. We shall, however, when occasion demands, enter into discourse sparingly, avoiding such common topics as gladiators, horse-races, athletes; and the perpetual talk about food and drink. Above all avoid speaking of persons, either in the way of praise or blame, or comparison. If you can, win over the conversation of your company to what it should be by your own. But if you should find yourself cut off without escape among strangers and aliens, be silent. (164).

„Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.“

—  Epictetus
Context: Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task. Book I, ch. 27.

„Habits and faculties are necessarily affected by the corresponding acts“

—  Epictetus
Context: If you have given way to anger, be sure that over and above the evil involved therein, you have strengthened the habit, and added fuel to the fire. If overcome by a temptation of the flesh, do not reckon it a single defeat, but that you have also strengthened your dissolute habits. Habits and faculties are necessarily affected by the corresponding acts... One who has had fever, even when it has left him, is not in the same condition of health as before, unless indeed his cure is complete. Something of the same sort is true also of diseases of the mind. Behind, there remains a legacy of traces and of blisters: and unless these are effectually erased, subsequent blows on the same spot will produce no longer mere blisters, but sores. If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which may tend to its increase. At first, keep quiet and count the days when you were not angry: 'I used to be angry every day, then every other day: next every two, next every three days!' and if you succeed in passing thirty days, sacrifice to the Gods in thanksgiving. (75).

„You are impatient and hard to please.“

—  Epictetus
Context: You are impatient and hard to please. If alone, you call it solitude: if in the company of men, you dub them conspirators and thieves, and find fault with your very parents, children, brothers and neighbours. Whereas when by yourself you should have called it Tranquillity and Freedom: and herein deemed yourself like unto the Gods. And when in the company of the many, you should not have called it a wearisome crowd and tumult, but an assembly and a tribunal; and thus accepted all with contentment. What then is the chastisement of those who accept it not? To be as they are. Is any discontented with being alone? let him be in solitude. Is any discontented with his parents? let him be a bad son, and lament. Is any discontented with his children? let him be a bad father.—"Throw him into prison!"—What prison?—Where he is already: for he is there against his will; and wherever a man is against his will, that to him is a prison. Thus Socrates was not in prison since he was there with his own consent. (31 & 32).

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