The Enchiridion - Part 15

Part 15 has both my most and least favourite sections of Epictetus' writing. First, the good:

Remember that in life you ought to behave as at a banquet. Suppose that something is carried round and is opposite you. Stretch out your hand and take a portion with decency. Suppose that it passes you. Do not detain it. Suppose that it is not yet come to you. Do not send your desire forward to but, but wait till it is opposite you.

I think this a wonderedful analogy that captures the spirit of Stocism in a very accessible and memorable way. It also riffs heavily off Aristotle:

It is best to rise from life as from a banquet, neither thirsty nor drunken

Now, back to Eptictetus:

Do so with respect to children, so with respect to a wife, so with respect to magisterial offices, so with respect to wealth, and you will be some time a worthy partner of the banquets of the gods.

This is where I start to get lost. Banqueting with gods? I thought I was trying to maximise my joy through self-improvement?

But if you take none of the things which are set before you, and even despise them, then you will be not only a fellow banqueter with the gods, but also a partner with them in power. For by acting thus Diogenes and Heracleitus and those like them were deservedly divine, and were so called.

And here Epictetus slips from Stoicism into Asceticism, which heavily promotes abstinence. One of the things I love about Stoicism is that is essentially a practical philosophy that teaches you how to live well within society, as opposed to withdrawing from it.

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