Epictetus (55 – 135 A.D.) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey) and spent his youth in Rome as a slave and as a secretary to the emperor Nero. Epictetus acquired a passion for philosophy at an early age, and with the permission of his wealthy owner, he studied Stoic philosophy under Musonius Rufus. After obtaining his freedom he began to teach philosophy in Rome and then later Greece, where he founded a philosophical school. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion. Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline, and that the foundation of all philosophy is self-knowledge. He lived a life of great simplicity, with few possessions.
Quotes by Epictetus…
Does a philosopher seek people to come and hear him? Does he not, rather, by his own nature, attract those who will be enriched by him? He is like the warming sun. What physician seeks for men to come and be healed?
Let not that which in another is contrary to nature be an evil to you, for you are not made by nature to be depressed with others, nor to be unhappy with others, but to be happy with them.
Man, if you are anything at all, strive to walk alone and hold communion with yourself, instead of hiding in the chorus of men. Think, look around, arouse yourself, so that you will know who you are!
How are we constituted by Nature? To be free, to be noble, to be modest.
Be dissatisfied with the life you are now leading, but when you have rejected it, do not be in despair over yourself… Learn what the wrestling teachers do. Has the boy fallen? “Rise,” they say, “and wrestle again until your strength is renewed.” That is how it should be with you. Realize that there is nothing more flexible than the human spirit. It needs but to will, and the thing is done; the spirit is set on the right path.
I am by Nature made for my own good, not for my own evil.
We must approach this matter in an entirely different manner. It is great and mystical; it is no common thing, nor is it given to every man. Wisdom alone is not enough; a man needs a certain degree of readiness.
When a man tells you that you know nothing, and you are not angry at him, you may be sure that you have begun to work.
Give yourself more diligently to reflection; come to know yourself.
If you seek Truth, you will not seek to gain a victory by every possible means; and when you have found the Truth, you need not fear being defeated.