what figure do you think Hercules would
have made if there had not been such a lion,
and a hydra, and a stag, and unjust and brutal
men; whom he expelled and cleared away? And
what would he have done if none of these had
existed? Is it not plain that he must have wrapped
himself up and slept? In the first place, then, he
would never have become a Hercules by slumbering
away his whole life in such delicacy and ease;
or if he had, what good would it have done?
What would have been the use of his arm, and
the rest of his strength; of his patience, and
greatness of mind, if such circumstances and subjects
of action had not roused and exercised him?
What then: must we provide these things for
ourselves, and introduce a boar, and a lion, and
a hydra, into our country?
This would be madness and folly. But as they
were in being, and to be met with, they were
proper subjects to set off and exercise Hercules.
Do you therefore likewise, being sensible of this,
inspect the faculties you have, and after taking
a view of them, say,
"Bring on me now, O Jupiter,
what difficulty thou wilt, for I have faculties granted
me by thee, and abilities by which I may acquire
honour and ornament to myself." — No; but you
sit trembling, for fear this or that should happen;
and lamenting, and mourning, and groaning at
what doth happen; and then you accuse the gods.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book i. §6. ¶6.