That Boldness Does Not Conflict with Caution, Epictetus

Epictetus, Discourses Collected by Arrian 2.1

“That Boldness Does Not Conflict with Caution.”

α′. ῞Οτι οὐ μάχεται τὸ θαρρεῖν τῷ εὐλαβεῖσθαι.

“There’s a chance that this belief held by philosophers seems paradoxical to some, but still let us consider as well as well as we can if it is true that we need to do everything both boldly and cautiously at the same time. For caution seems to be completely opposite to boldness and opposites are not at all the same thing. But the thing which seems paradoxical in this matter to many, seems to me to have this sort of characteristic. For if we were to think it right to use caution and boldness in the same matters, wouldn’t we be rightly thought to ask that disparate elements be brought together? But, really, what is so strange about the assertion?

If these things which are said frequently are sound, and which have been proved frequently, that the essence of good as when as of evil is found in the use of the senses, but that choices made apart from moral intention admit neither the nature of evil nor of good, why should philosophers be considered to be speaking paradoxically when they say that “where things are beyond moral intention, be bold; where things involve moral intention, be cautious?”


Παράδοξον μὲν τυχὸν φαίνεταί τισιν τὸ ἀξιούμενον ὑπὸ τῶν φιλοσόφων, ὅμως δὲ σκεψώμεθα κατὰ δύναμιν, εἰ ἀληθές ἐστι τὸ δεῖν ἅμα μὲν εὐλαβῶς ἅμα δὲ

θαρρούντως πάντα ποιεῖν. ἐναντίον γάρ πως δοκεῖ τῷ θαρραλέῳ τὸ εὐλαβές, τὰ δ’ ἐναντία οὐδαμῶς συνυπάρχει. τὸ δὲ φαινόμενον πολλοῖς ἐν τῷ τόπῳ παράδοξον δοκεῖ μοι τοιούτου τινὸς ἔχεσθαι· εἰ μὲν γὰρ πρὸς ταὐτὰ ἠξιοῦμεν χρῆσθαι τῇ τ’ εὐλαβείᾳ καὶ τῷ θάρσει, δικαίως ἂν ἡμᾶς ᾐτιῶντο ὡς τὰ ἀσύνακτα συνάγοντας. νῦν δὲ τί δεινὸν ἔχει τὸ λεγόμενον; εἰ γὰρ ὑγιῆ ταῦτ’ ἐστι τὰ πολλάκις μὲν εἰρημένα, πολλάκις δ’ ἀποδεδειγμένα, ὅτι ἡ οὐσία τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἔστιν ἐν χρήσει φαντασιῶν καὶ τοῦ κακοῦ ὡσαύτως, τὰ δ’ ἀπροαίρετα οὔτε τὴν τοῦ κακοῦ δέχεται φύσιν οὔτε τὴν τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ, τί παράδοξον ἀξιοῦσιν οἱ φιλόσοφοι, εἰ λέγουσιν ‘ὅπου μὲν τὰ ἀπροαίρετα, ἐκεῖ τὸ θάρσος ἔστω σοι, ὅπου δὲ τὰ προαιρετικά, ἐκεῖ ἡ εὐλάβεια’;



Leave a Reply