The Discourses

Author: Epictetus  | Date: 101 AD


On familiar intimacy

To This matter before all you must attend: that you be never so closely connected with any of your former intimates or friends as to come down to the same acts as he does. If you do not observe this rule, you will ruin yourself. But if the thought arises in your mind. "I shall seem disobliging to him, and he will not have the same feeling toward me," remember that nothing is done without cost, nor is it possible for a man if he does not do the same to be the same man that he was. Choose, then, which of the two you will have, to be equally loved by those by whom you were formerly loved, being the same with your former self; or, being superior, not to obtain from your friends the same that you did before. For if this is better, turn away to it, and let not other considerations draw you in a different direction. For no man is able to make progress, when he is wavering between opposite things, but if you have preferred this to all things, if you choose to attend to this only, to work out this only, give up everything else. But if you will not do this, your wavering will produce both these results: you will neither improve as you ought, nor will you obtain what you formerly obtained. For before, by plainly desiring the things which were worth nothing, you pleased your associates. But you cannot excel in both kinds, and it is necessary that so far as you share in the one, you must fall short in the other. You cannot, when you do not drink with those with whom you used to drink, he agreeable to them as you were before. Choose, then, whether you will be a hard drinker and pleasant to your former associates or a sober man and disagreeable to them. You cannot, when you do not sing with those with whom you used to sing, be equally loved by them. Choose, then, in this matter also which of the two you will have. For if it is better to be modest and orderly than for a man to say, "He is a jolly fellow," give up the rest, renounce it, turn away from it, have nothing to do with such men. But if this behavior shall not please you, turn altogether to the opposite: become a catamite, an adulterer, and act accordingly, and you will get what you wish. And jump up in the theatre and bawl out in praise of the dancer. But characters so different cannot be mingled: you cannot act both Thersites and Agamemnon. If you intend to be Thersites, you must be humpbacked and bald: if Agamemnon, you must be tall and handsome, and love those who are placed in obedience to you.


Related Resources

Ancient Greek Literature

Download Options

Title: The Discourses

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: The Discourses

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Epictetus, "Chapter 2," The Discourses Original Sources, accessed May 28, 2024,

MLA: Epictetus. "Chapter 2." The Discourses, Original Sources. 28 May. 2024.

Harvard: Epictetus, 'Chapter 2' in The Discourses. Original Sources, retrieved 28 May 2024, from