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The Discources

Arrian to Lucius Gellius, greeting:

1I have not composed these Words of Epictetus as one might be said to "compose" books of this kind, nor have I of my own act published them to the world; indeed, I acknowledge that I have not "composed" them at all.[1] 2But whatever I heard him say I used to write down., word for word, as best I could, endeavouring to preserve it as a memorial, for my own future use, of his way of thinking and the frankness of his speech. 3They are, accordingly, as you might expect, such remarks as one man might make off-hand to another, not such as he would compose for men to read in after time. 4This being their character, they have fallen, I know not how, without my will or knowledge, into the hands of men. 5Yet to me it is a matter of small concern if I shall be thought incapable of "composing" a work, and to Epictetus of no concern at all if anyone shall despise his words, seeing that even when he uttered them he was clearly aiming at nothing else but to incite the minds of his hearers to the best things. 6If, now, these words of his should produce that same effect, they would have, I think, just that success which the words of the philosophers ought to have; 7but if not, let those who read them be assured of this, that when Epictetus himself spoke them, the hearer could not help but feel exactly what Epictetus wanted him to feel. 8If, however, the words by themselves do not produce this effect, perhaps I am at fault, or else, perhaps, it cannot well be otherwise. Farewell.