A spectator of himself and of his works

But god has introduced man into the world as a spectator of himself and of his works; and not only as a spectator, but an interpreter of them. It is therefore shameful that man should begin and end where the irrational creatures do. He ought rather to begin there, but to end where nature itself has fixed our end; and that is in contemplation and understanding and a way of life in harmony with nature. Take care, then, not to die without ever being spectators of these things.

– Epictetus, The Discourses

But you are wretched and discontented, and if you are alone, you call it desolation, but if you are with men, you call them cheats and robbers and you find fault with even your parents and children and brothers and neighbours. Whereas you ought, when you live alone, to call that peace and freedom, and compare yourself to the gods; and when you are in company, not to call it a crowd and a tumult and a vexation, but a feast and a festival, and thus accept all things with contentment. What, then, is the punishment of those who do not? To be just as they are. Is a person discontented at being alone? Let him be in desolation. Discontented with his parents? Let him be a bad son, and let him grieve. Discontented with his children? Let him be a bad father. ‘Throw him into prison.’ What kind of prison? Where he already is.

– Epictetus, The Discourses

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