Epictetus: Are you an interpreter or a philosopher?


Anytime someone is showing off
because he understands Chrysippus,*
say to yourself: “If Chrysippus
hadn’t written such difficult stuff
this guy would have nothing to say.”

Seriously, what do you want?

You want to understand
nature and to follow her.

So I ask—who interprets nature?
Well: I hear that Chrysippus does.
But I just can’t understand his writings.
So, I look for someone to interpret them.

OK then, I find someone and so
all I have to do is listen to him.

That becomes the important thing—
admiring the interpretation. So, then,
are you a philosopher or a student?

This is why, when someone asks
for me to interpret Chrysippus,
I blush. I’m walking the walk,
but I won’t that talk at all.

*Greek Stoic philosopher of the Second Century BCE.


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