Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Epictetus > The Golden Sayings
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Epictetus. (c.A.D. 50–c.A.D. 138).  The Golden Sayings of Epictetus.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Appendix B. The Hymn of Cleanthes
 
 
CHIEFEST glory of deathless Gods, Almighty for ever,
Sovereign of Nature that rulest by law, what Name shall we give Thee?—
Blessed be Thou! for on Thee should call all things that are mortal.
For that we are Thine offspring; nay, all that in myriad motion
Lives for its day on the earth bears one impress—Thy likeness—upon it.        5
Wherefore my song is of Thee, and I hymn Thy power for ever.
 
Lo, the vast orb of the Worlds, round the Earth evermore as it rolleth,
Feels Thee its Ruler and Guide, and owns Thy lordship rejoicing.
Aye, for Thy conquering hands have a servant of living fire—
Sharp is the bolt!—where it falls, Nature shrinks at the shock and doth shudder.        10
Thus Thou directest the Word universal that pulses through all things,
Mingling its life with Lights that are great and Lights that are lesser,
E’en as besemeth its birth, High King through ages unending.
 
Nought is done that is done without Thee in the earth or the waters
Or in the heights of heaven, save the deed of the fool and the sinner.        15
Thou canst make rough things smooth; at Thy Voice, lo, jarring disorder
Moveth to music, and Love is born where hatred abounded.
Thus hast Thou fitted alike things good and things evil together,
That over all might reign one Reason, supreme and eternal;
Though thereunto the hearts of the wicked be hardened and headless—        20
Woe unto them!—for while ever their hands are grasping at good things,
Blind are their eyes, yea, stopped are their ears to God’s Law universal,
Calling through wise obedience to live the life that is noble.
This they mark not, but heedless of right, turn each to his own way,
Here, a heart fired with ambition, in strife and straining unhallowed;        25
There, thrusting honour aside, fast set upon getting and gaining;
Others again given over to lusts and dissolute softness,
Working never God’s Law, but that which warreth upon it.
 
Nay, but, O Giver of all things good, whose home is the dark cloud,
Thou that wieldest Heaven’s bolt, save men from their ignorance grievous;        30
Scatter its night from their souls, and grant them to come to that Wisdom
Wherewithal, sistered with Justice, Thou rulest and governest all things;
That we, honoured by Thee, may requite Thee with worship and honour,
Evermore praising thy works, as is meet for men that shall perish;
Seeing that none, be he mortal or God, hath privilege nobler        35
Than without stint, without stay, to extol Thy Law universal.
 

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