The Enchiridion Part Thirty-Six

Remember the value of your behavior which ought to be proper towards the person who gives the feast.

OPENING
I am A Man of Letters. I’ve been reading lately, and I have found some words I would like to share. Today, “The Enchiridion” by Epictetus. Part Thirty-Six…

BODY

The proposition that “either it is day or it is night” is a proper disjunctive argument, but not a proper conjunctive argument. In the same way, when you are at a feast, if you choose the largest share for yourself this is proper for your appetite, but not proper with the social spirit of a feast. When you eat with another, then, remember not only the value of those things which are set before you for your body, but the value of your behavior which ought to be proper towards the person who gives the feast.

COMMENTARY
That is what Epictetus said. Here is what I say. A disjunctive argument is an argument that separates things. In this example, it is either day, or it is night, but it is never both day and night, and it is never neither day nor night. A conjunctive argument is an argument that joins things together. In this example, the social spirit of a feast is joined together with the behavior of one who goes to the feast, not as the champion eater, but as one glad to eat with another man. In “The Discourses,” Epictetus has this to say about social behavior.

When the portions have been distributed, go, if you think it right, and snatch up the portion of him who reclines next to you, or slyly steal it, or place your hand down by it and lay hold of it, and if you cannot tear away a bit of the meat, grease your fingers and lick them. You will be a fine companion over cups, and Socratic guest indeed! At the theater, when all have taken their seats, come, if you think proper, and eject one of them. […] Instead of a man, be an ape.

A conjunctive proposition is maintained when it fulfills what its nature promises. A disjunctive is maintained when it fulfills what it promises. When are a flute, a lyre, a horse or a dog preserved? It is not a surprise if man also in like manner is preserved, and in like manner is lost? Each man is improved and preserved by corresponding acts, the carpenter by acts of carpentry, the grammarian by acts of grammar. But if a man accustoms himself to write ungrammatically, of necessity his art will be corrupted and destroyed. Thus modest actions preserve the modest man, and immodest actions destroy him: and loyalty preserve the loyal man, and treason destroys him. On the other hand, contrary actions strengthen contrary characters, shamelessness strengthens the shameless man, faithlessness the faithless man, abusive words the abusive man, anger the man of an angry temper, and pettiness make the petty man more petty.

Is there an energy of the soul which is an advantage to him who possesses it, and a damage to him who has lost it? “Tell me what you mean.” Well, do we have a natural modesty? “We do.” He who loses his natural modesty is not deprived of nothing; he parts with part what belong to him. We have naturally fidelity, natural affection, a natural disposition to help others, a natural disposition to forbearance. The man then who allows himself to be damaged in these matters, he can not be free from harm and uninjured. “What then? shall I not hurt him, who has hurt me?” In the first place consider what hurt is. Remember what you have heard from the philosophers. For if the good consists in the will, and the evil also in the will, what you say is: “What then, since that man has hurt himself by doing an unjust act to me, shall I not hurt myself by doing some unjust act to him?” See that this is what you are saying. Where there is any detriment to the body or to our possession, there is harm there. Where the same thing happens to the faculty of the will, there is no harm, for he who has been deceived or he who has done an unjust act neither suffers in the head nor in the eye nor in the hip, nor does he lose his estate. We wish for nothing else than these things. If you only care when you are in the school whether your will is modest and faithful or shameless and faithless, your proficiency is limited to a few words. But beyond a few words your fidelity does not exist even in the slightest degree.

After you have received everything from another, even yourself, are you angry and do you blame the Giver if He takes anything from you? Who are you, and for what purpose did you come into the world? He introduce you here, He showed you the light, He gave you fellow-workers, and perception, and reason. As whom did He introduce here? He introduced you here, as a subject to death, and as one to live on the earth with a little flesh, and to observe His administration, and to join with Him in the spectacle and the festival for a short time. After seeing the spectacle and the solemnity as long as you are permitted, when He leads you out, go with adoration of Him and thanks for what you have seen and heard. You say: “No, I would still enjoy the feast.” The initiated, too, would wish to be longer in the initiation. Perhaps also those at Olympia would wish to see other athletes. But the spectacle and the solemnity is ended. Go away like a grateful and modest man. Make room for others, others who must also be born, as you were, and being born they must have a place, and houses and necessary things.

If a man has frequent interaction with others, either for talk, or drinking together, or generally for social purposes, he must either become like them, or change them to his own fashion. In the same way, if a man places a piece of extinguished charcoal close to a piece that is burning, either the extinguished charcoal will extinguish the other, or the burning charcoal will light the one that is extinguish. Since the danger of being lit up or extinguished is so great, we must interact cautiously with those of the common sort, and remember that it is impossible that a man can keep company with one who is covered with soot without being partaker of the soot himself.

CHORUS
Here again is Part Thirty-Six of The Enchiridion

The proposition that “either it is day or it is night” is a proper disjunctive argument, but not a proper conjunctive argument. In the same way, when you are at a feast, if you choose the largest share for yourself this is proper for your appetite, but not proper with the social spirit of a feast. When you eat with another, then, remember not only the value of those things which are set before you for your body, but the value of your behavior which ought to be proper towards the person who gives the feast.

CLOSING
Thank you for listening. For more information about the words I have read and the music to follow, please visit A Man of Letters. amoletters.com.

Until I return, I am… A Man of Letters.

MUSIC
Cliff Edwards – I Wish it Were Me
Cliff Edwards – Sweet Child (Perfect 11607 1926)

Episode 1636