The Verbal Duel of Emperor Hadrian and Epictetus the Philosopher

Category: Ancient Learning > Paideia > Philosophy in Questions & Answers

1 Introduction


ed. Suchier

2 Translation

The Verbal Duel of Emperor Hadrian and Epictetus the Philosopher

(1) Hadrian: What do we have if you uncover, but you still are not naked? Look at the body, which you can study.
Epictetus: It is a letter.
(2) H: What is a letter?
E: A silent messenger.
(3) H: What is a painting?
E: False truth.
(4) H: Why do you say that?
E: Because we see painted fruits, flowers, animals, gold and silver, but it is not real.
(5) H: What is gold?
E: Death’s possession.
(6) H: What is silver?
E: Envy’s locus.
(7) H: What is iron?
E: Every craft’s instrument.
(8) H: What is a sword?
E: The command of the military camp.
(9) H: What is a gladiator?
E: A murderer without crime.
(10) H: Who is sick while they are healthy?
E: Those who concern themselves with other people’s business.
(11) H: What do humans never get tired of?
E: Making profit.
(12) H: What is friendship?
E: Agreement.
(13) H: What is the longest thing?
E: Hope.
(14) H: What is hope?
E: A dream for the waking, a doubtful outcome for the hopeful.
(15) H: What can a human being not see?
E: Another’s soul.
(16) H: Why do human beings commit transgressions?
E: Because of desire.
(17) H: What is liberty?
E: Integrity.
(18) H: What do a king and a pauper have in common?
E: Being born and dying.
(19) H: What is the best and worst thing?
E: Speech.
(20) H: What is it that one owner is pleased with, another displeased with?
E: Life.
(21) H: What is the best life?
E: The shortest.
(22) H: What is the most certain thing?
E: Death.
(23) H: What is death?
E: Eternal security.
(24) H: What is death?
E: Something that no one need fear, if they are wise. The enemy of life; the divine power over the living. The fear of parents; the snatching away of children. The favor of the testament; talk after death; the greatest tears; oblivion following remembrance; a torch for the funeral pyre; the cargo of the tomb; an inscription on a monument. Death is the end of all evils.
(25) H: Why are dead people garlanded?
E: It shows that they have completed the race of life.
(26) H: Why are the toes of a dead person bound?
E: So that they do not know they are the same after death.
(27) H: What is a corpse-bearer?
E: One whom many avoid and none escape.
(28) H: What is a funeral pyre?
E: Collection (?) on a debt, paying (?) of a debt.
(29) H: What is a (war-)trumpet?
E: War’s incitement; the military camp’s signal; the arena’s call; the play’s beginning; a funeral march.
(30) H: What is a monument?
E: A ‹…› rock; a sight for the idle passer-by.
(31) H: What is a poor person?
E: Like a dried up well, everyone sees him and immediately leaves.
(32) H: What is a human being?
E: Similar to a bathhouse: in the first room, for tepid baths and anointing, the newborn infant is lotioned; the second room, a sweating room, is childhood; the third room, a steam bath, carries through adulthood; the fourth room, a cold-water bath, approaches old age, and gives a fair judgment (?) for all.
(33) H: What is a human being?
E: Similar to a fruit:
Like fruits hanging on trees, this is what our bodies are like:
Either they fall when they are mature, or, if too soon, they fall down bitter.
(34) H: What is a human being?
E: Like a candle in the wind.
(35) H: What is a human being?
E: A guest to a place; law’s image; a story of misfortune; death’s possession; life’s span; something that Fortune often plays her games with.
(36) H: What is Fortune?
E: Like a noble matron who throws herself at slaves.
(37) H: What is Fortune?
E: Without judgement; a turning-point very near; a misfortune (or ‘opportunity’?) for the goods of strangers; she shows brilliant light to the one she comes to; she will make a shadow of the one she leaves.
(38) H: But how many Fortunes are there?
E: Three. One is blind, which throws itself just anywhere; and another is mad, which yields, then quickly withdraws; the third is deaf, since it does not listen to the prayers of the unfortunate.
(39) H: What are the gods?
E: The eyes’ signs; the mind’s divine powers. If you fear them, it is dread – if you hold them fast, it is piety.
(40) H: What is the sun?
E: The splendor of the world; the one who raises and settles the day; through whom it is given to us to know the passing of the hours.
(41) H: What is the moon?
E: A counterfeit day; the night’s eye; the torch of darkness.
(42) H: What is the sky?
E: A vast dome.
(43) H: What is the sky?
E: Pure air.
(44) H: What are the stars?
E: The fates of humanity.
(45) H: What are the stars?
E: The letters of ship pilots.
(46) H: What is the earth?
E: The granary of Ceres.
(47) H: What is the earth?
E: The storeroom of life.
(48) H: What is the sea?
E: An uncertain road.
(49) H: What is a ship?
E: A roving house.
(50) H: What is a ship?
E: An anywhere lodging.
(51) H: What is a ship?
E: The divine powers of Neptune; courier of the year’s courses.
(52) H: What is a sailor?
E: A lover of the sea; a deserter of firmness; a despiser of life and death; a client of the wave.
(53) H: What is sleep?
E: An image of death.
(54) H: What is the night?
E: Respite for the worker; profit for the thief.
(55) H: What is a pillow?
E: A wrestling ground for the sleepless.
(56) H: Why is Venus depicted as nude?
E: Venus is painted nude, the Loves are painted nude;
Fittingly, she leaves those who like her nude denuded.
(57) H: Why is Venus married to Vulcan?
E: It shows that love burns with ardor.
(58) H: Why does Venus squint?
E: Because love is crooked.
(59) H: What is love?
E: The distress of an idle heart. In a boy, shame; in a girl, a blush; in a woman, passion; in a young man, ardor; in an old man, laughter; {in the despiser of transgression, pointlessness}.
(60) H: What is the god?
E: One who holds all things.
(61) H: What is a sacrifice?
E: A diminishment (or ‘first fruits’).
(62) H: What is without fellowship?
E: Kingship.
(63) H: What is kingship?
E: A part of the gods.
(64) H: What is the emperor?
E: The head of the public good (lit. ‘light’).
(65) H: What is the senate?
E: The ornament of the city; the splendor of the citizens.
(66) H: What is a soldier?
E: The wall of the empire; the defender of the fatherland; glorious service (or ‘slavery’); a token of power.
(67) H: What is Rome?
E: The source of the empire of the world; the mother of peoples; possessor the matter; the comradery of the Romans; the consecration of eternal peace.
(68) H: What is victory?
E: the struggle of war; the love of peace.
(69) H: What is peace?
E: Tranquil liberality.
(70) H: What is the forum?
E: A temple of liberty; an arena of litigants.
(71) H: What are friends?
E: They are golden statues.
(72) H: What is a friend?
E: Similar to a citrus apple: pleasing from the outside, because the acid in the apple (mālō) / in the evil person (malō) hides inside.
(73) H: What are parasites?
E: Those who are fattened like fish.

3 Latin text

Altercatio Hadriani Augusti et Epictiti Philosophi

(1) Had. Quid erit nobis, si cinctum solvas, neque nudaberis ipse? Respice corpus, quod et doceri possis.
Epic. Epistola est.
(2) H. Quid est epistola?
E. Tacitus nuntius [!].
(3) H. Quid est pictura?
E. Veritas falsa.
(4) H. Quare hoc dixisti?
E. Videmus enim poma picta, flores, animalia, aurum, argentum, et non est verum.
(5) H. Quid est aurum?
E. Mancipium mortis.
(6) H. Quid est argentum?
E. Invidiae loc
(7) H. Quid est ferrum?
E. Omnis artis instrumentum.
(8) H. Quid est gladius?
E. Regimen castrorum.
(9) H. Quid est gladiator?
E. Sine crimine homicida.
(10) H. Qui sunt qui sani aegrotant?
E. Qui aliena negotia curant.
(11) H. Qua ratione homo lassus non fit?
E. Lucrum faciendo.
(12) H. Quid est amicitia?
E. Concordia.
(13) H. Quid est longissimum?
E. Spes.
(14) H. Quid est spes?
E. Vigilanti somnus, spectanti dubius eventus.
(15) H. Quid est quod homo videre non potest?
E. Alterius animum.
(16) H. Qua re peccant homines?
E. Cupiditate.
(17) H. Quid est libertas?
E. Innocentia.
(18) H. Quid regi et misero commune est?
E. Nasci et mori.
(19) H. Quid est optimum ac pessimum?
E. Verbum.
(20) H. Quid est quod alii placet et alii displicet?
E. Vita.
(21) H. Quid est optima vita?
E. Brevissima.
(22) H. Quid est certissimum?
E. Mors.
(23) H. Quid est mors?
E. Perpetua securitas.
(24) H. Quid est mors?
E. Timenda nulli [!], si sapiens degat [!], inimica vitae, nomen animantium, metus parentum, liberorum praeda; testamenti gratia, post obitum sermo, supremae lacrimae, post memoriam oblivio, fax rogi, onus sepulchri [!], titulus monumenti; mors omnium malorum finis est.
(25) H. Quare mortuus coronatur?
E. Agonem se vitae transegisse testatur.
(26) H. Quare mortuo pollices ligantur?
E. Ut parem post obitum esse se nesciat.
(27) H. Quid est vispillo?
E. Quem multi devitant et nemo effugit.
(28) H. Quid est rogus?
E. Contentio crediti, persolutio debiti.
(29) H. Quid est tuba?
E. Belli incitamen, castri signum, arenae [!] admonitio, scaenae commissio, funeris deploratio.
(30) H.
Quid est monimentum?
E. Saxa †isticmosa†, otiosi viatoris spectatio.
(31) H. Quid est homo pauper?
E. Ut puteum desertum omnes aspiciunt et loco illum relinquunt.
(32) H. Quid est homo?
E. Balneo similis: prima cella tepidaria unctuaria [!], infans natus perungitur [!]; secunda cella sudatoria pueritia est; tertia cella assa praefervens iuventus; quarta cella appropiat senectus frigidaria, omnibus aequat sententiam.
(33) H. Quid est homo?
E. Pomo similis:
Poma ut in arboribus pendent, sic {sunt et} [!] corpora nostra:
‹a›ut [!] matura cadunt, aut cito acerba ruunt.
(34) H. Quid est homo?
E. Sicut lucerna in vento posita.
(35) H. Quid est homo?
E. Loci hospes, legis imago, calamitatis fabula, mancipium mortis, vitae mora; quo fortuna saepe suos ludos faciet.
(36) H. Quid est fortuna?
E. Vt matrona nobilis in servos se inpingit.
(37) H. Quid est fortuna?
E. Sine iudicio, proxima meta, alienorum bonorum casus; ad quem venit, splendorem ostendit, a quo recedit, umbram faciet.
(38) H. Quot sunt autem fortunae?
E. Tres: una caeca, quae ubilibet se impingit; et alia insana, quae ‹quae› [!] concedit, cito aufert; tertia surda, quae miserorum preces non exaudit.
(39) H. Quid sunt dii?
E. Oculorum signa, mentis numina; si metuis, timor est; si contines, religio est.
(40) H. Quid est sol?
E. Splendor orbis; qui tollit et ponit diem; per quem scire nobis cursum horarum datur.
(41) H. Quid est luna?
E. Dies adultor, noctis oculus, fax tenebrarum.
(42) H. Quid est caelum?
E. Culmen immensum.
(43) H. Quid est caelum?
E. Aër mundus.
(44) H. Quid sunt stellae?
E. Fata hominum.
(45) H. Quid sunt stellae?
E. Litora gubernatorum.
(46) H. Quid est terra?
E. Horreum Cereris.
(47) H. Quid est terra?
E. Cellarium vitae.
(48) H. Quid est mare?
E. Iter incertum.
(49) H. Quid est navis?
E. Domus erratica.
(50) H. Quid est navis?
E. Ubilibet hospicium.
(51) H. Quid est navis?
E. Numina Neptuni, anni cursuum tabellarium.
(52) H. Quid est nauta?
E. Amator pelagi, firmi desertor, contemptor vitae mortisque, undae cliens.
(53) H. Quid est somnus?
E. Mortis imago.
(54) H. Quid est nox?
E. Laboranti requies, crassanti lucrum.
(55) H. Quid est culcita?
E. Insomnis volutatorium.
(56) H. Quare Venus nuda pingitur?
E. Nuda Venus picta,8 nudi pinguntur Amores;
quībus nuda placet, nudos dimittat oportet.
(57) H. Quare Venus Vulcano nupta est?
E. Ostendit amorem ardore incendi.
(58) H. Quare Venus straba est?
E. Quia pravus est amor.
(59) H. Quid est amor?
E. Otiosi pectoris molestia, in puero pudor, in virgine rubor, in femina furor, in iuvene ardor, in sene risus, {in derisore delicti nequities est} [!].
(60) H. Quid est deus?
E. Qui omnia tenet.
(61) H. Quid est sacrificium?
E. Delibatio.
(62) H. Quid est sine societate?
E. Regnum.
(63) H. Quid est regnum?
E. Pars deorum.
(64) H. Quid est Caesar?
E. Publicae lucis caput.
(65) H. Quid est senatus?
E. Ornamentum urbis [!], splendor civium.
(66) H. Quid est miles?
E. Murus imperii, defensor patriae, gloriosa servitus, potestatis indicium.
(67) H. Quid est Roma?
E. Fons imperii orbis terrarum, mater gentium, rei possessor, Romanorum contubernium, pacis aeternae consecratio.
(68) H. Quid est victoria?
E. Belli discordia, pacis amor.
(69) H. Quid est pax?
E. Tranquilla libertas.
(70) H. Quid est forum?
E. Templum libertatis, arena litigantium.
(71) H. Quid sunt amici?
E. Statuae [!] aureae [!] sunt.
(72) H. Quid est amicus?
E. {U} [!] pomo citreo similis: a foras beatus, nam intra pectus ac{c}idum [!] occultat malo.
(73) H. Quid sunt parasiti?
E. Qui tanquam pisces adescantur.