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Epictetus: Great You Are

Great are You, O God:

That is the hymn our hearts would sing as we dig and plough and eat. At every moment, we would sing these praises and, above all, the greatest and divinest praise: that You have given us the power to comprehend these gifts and to walk in the way of reason.

If I were a nightingale, I should sing as a nightingale; if a swan, as a swan; but as I am a rational human being, I must praise You, O Death less Power, forever and ever.

Epictetus (55-135) was a Stoic philosopher. Born a slave, he established a famous philosophical school in Nicopolis. Much of his work was transcribed by his pupil Arrian in The Discourses and Enchiridion. He encouraged living in accordance with reason and ways of nature.

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