Four or five centuries later, Epictetus,〖H. C., xl, 93.〗 a slave (afterward a freedman), and Marcus Aurelius,〖H. C., xiii.〗 an emperor of Rome, in their meditations or conversations on human life show the living flame of thought which was kindled in Socrates, and handed down from him for many generations. We are apt to think of Stoics as men who crushed all their feelings, and went about the world with solemn faces and sad hearts, bearing trouble as they might. But the best Stoics of all times cared much for human nature and human freedom. They studied men, and found man’s nature to be essentially rational. The terrible thing to them was to see this rational soul losing its self-control and, bewildered in a vain struggle to find happiness by submission to the outside world, getting into a turmoil of fluttering excitement over things which were not in its own power. But what was in their own power they tried to handle divinely, with real energy. For they felt that man’s rational soul is akin to the good Power which makes and moves the universe. And herein they agreed with Socrates. The slave and the emperor were in harmony with the free Athenian.

All Directories