“Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes they blind.” ― EpictetusTweet
Epictetus was a Greek philosopher who lived in the first and second centuries CE. He was a member of the Stoic school of philosophy, which emphasized the importance of living in accordance with reason and virtue. Epictetus believed that individuals have the power to shape their own lives and that the key to a fulfilling life is to cultivate wisdom, self-control, and integrity.
One of the central ideas in the philosophy of Epictetus is the concept of “prohairesis,” which refers to the power of choice and decision-making that every individual possesses. According to Epictetus, we have the ability to choose our own actions and attitudes, and it is up to us to use this power wisely. He argued that we should strive to act in accordance with reason and virtue, rather than being swayed by our emotions or external circumstances.
Epictetus’s philosophy has had a lasting impact on Western thought and has influenced many other philosophers, including the Roman statesman and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. His ideas are still relevant today and continue to be studied and debated by philosophers and scholars around the world.
In contrast, crows are depicted as being more honest and discerning. They are portrayed as only picking out the eyes of the dead, suggesting that they are not interested in deceiving or manipulating those who are no longer alive. This suggests that it is important to be discerning and to carefully evaluate the motivations of those who praise us.
Epictetus believed in the importance of living in accordance with reason and virtue. He emphasized the value of self-control, integrity, and the pursuit of wisdom. This quote is consistent with his philosophy, as it advises us to be cautious of those who try to manipulate us through flattery and to focus on cultivating our own character and judgment.
In summary, the quote attributed to Epictetus reminds us of the dangers of flattery and the importance of discernment. It cautions us against being swayed by insincere praise and advises us to carefully evaluate the motivations of those who flatter us. By being discerning and avoiding the influence of flatterers, we can protect our character and judgment, as advised by the wisdom of the ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus.
If you are interested in learning more about the philosophy of Epictetus, a great book to consider is “The Discourses” by himself. This book is a collection of philosophical lectures and discussions that Epictetus gave to his students, and it covers a wide range of topics including ethics, personal responsibility, wisdom, and happiness.
In “The Discourses,” Epictetus argues that individuals have the power to shape their own lives and that the key to a fulfilling life is to cultivate wisdom, self-control, and integrity.
One of the strengths of “The Discourses” is that it is written in a clear and accessible style, making it a great introduction to the philosophy of Epictetus for those who are new to his ideas. The book is also full of practical advice and guidance that can be applied to everyday life, making it a valuable resource for those who are seeking to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
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