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…
Remember that it is not the man who gives blows or abuse who offends you, but the view you take of these things as being offensive. When, therefore, anyone provokes you, be assured that it is your own opinion which provokes you.
Is freedom anything else than the power of living as we choose? Nothing else. Tell me then, you men, do you wish to live in error? We do not. No one who lives in error is free. Do you with to live in fear? Do you wish to live in sorrow? Do you wish to live in tension? By no means. No one who is in a state of fear or sorrow or tension is free, but whoever is delivered from sorrows or fears or anxieties, he is at the same time also delivered from servitude.
A man who desires to excel should work with those things that are in themselves most excellent.
The beginning of philosophy is to know the condition of one’s own mind. If a man recognizes its weaknesses, he will not wish to apply it to important questions.
The beginning of philosophy, at least for he who enters on it in the right way and by the door, is a consciousness of his own weakness and inability about necessary things.
When I see an anxious man, I say, “What does this man want?” If he did not want something which is not in his power, how could he be anxious? For this reason, a lute player when he is singing by himself has no anxiety, but when he goes to the theatre, he is anxious, even if he has a good voice and plays well on the lute, for he not only wishes to sing well, but also to obtain applause, which is not in his power.
No man is damaged by an action which is not his own.
Who in the world, then, is the man who has any authority to make any declaration about you?
If you wish to maintain a will conformable to nature, you have every security, every facility, you have no troubles. If you wish to maintain what is in your own power and is naturally free, and if you are content with these, what else do you care for? For who is the master of such things? Who can take them away? If you choose to be modest and faithful, who shall not allow you to be so?
Many persons use greater care to avoid injuries to the body rather than to shun harm to the soul. Thou art not flesh and hair but a will. If thou keep this beautiful then will you be beautiful.