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Epictetus. (c.A.D. 50–c.A.D. 138).  The Golden Sayings of Epictetus.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
VIII
 
 
“Aye, but to debase myself thus were unworthy of me.”  1
  “That,” said Epictetus, “is for you to consider, not for me. You know yourself what you are worth in your own eyes; and at what price you will sell yourself. For men sell themselves at various prices. This was why, when Florus was deliberating whether he should appear at Nero’s shows, taking part in the performance himself, Agrippinus replied, ‘Appear by all means.’ And when Florus inquired, ‘But why do not you appear?’ he answered, ‘Because I do not even consider the question.’ For the man who has once stooped to consider such questions, and to reckon up the value of external things, is not far from forgetting what manner of man he is. Why, what is it that you ask me? Is death preferable, or life? I reply, Life. Pain or pleasure? I reply, Pleasure.”  2
  “Well, but if I do not act, I shall lose my head.”  3
  “Then go and act! But for my part I will not act.”  4
  “Why?”  5
  “Because you think yourself but one among the many threads which make up the texture of the doublet. You should aim at being like men in general—just as your thread has no ambition either to be anything distinguished compared with the other threads. But I desire to be the purple—that small and shining part which makes the rest seem fair and beautiful. Why then do you bid me become even as the multitude? Then were I no longer the purple.”  6
 

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