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…
Diogenes was free. How so? Not because he was of free parentage, for that was not the case, but because he was himself a free man. He had cast aside every handle by which he might be enslaved… All things sat loosely upon him, all things were attached by slender ties.
The first business of the philosopher is to part with self-conceit.
No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.
If a man is a good judge of silver, he will know, for the coin will tell its own story.
Reward? Do you seek any greater reward for being a good man than doing what is right and just?… Does it seem you a small and worthless thing to be a good man, and therefore a happy man?
If you are in Gyaros, do not let your mind dwell upon life at Rome; do not think about the pleasures offered to you when living in Rome, and all that would reward your return. Instead, be intent on discovering how the man who lives in Gyaros can live in Gyaros like an inspired man. And if you are in Rome, do not let your mind reflect upon life in Athens, but learn how to live in Rome.
The anger of an ape — the threat of a flatterer — these deserve equal regard.
Rely on principles.
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.