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…
The question at stake is no common one. It is, “Are we in our right sense or are we not?”
Have you again forgotten? Don’t you know that a good man does nothing for the sake of appearances, only for the sake of what is right?
A philosopher’s school is a hospital. You should feel discomfort, not pleasure, in it, for on entering, no one is well and whole. One has a disjointed shoulder, another a wound, a third suffers from a cut, and a fourth has a headache. Am I then to sit down and give you a treat of pretty words and empty sentiments, so you may applaud me and depart, with neither shoulder nor wound, cut, nor headache any better for your visit?
Let other people labor at debates and difficulties and arguments.
He is free who lives as he wishes to live. He is the man who cannot suffer injury, who cannot be hindered or compelled, whose impulses are not blocked, whose desires attain their purpose, who does not fall into whatever he wishes to avoid… So, no wicked man lives like this, and so he is not free.
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?