1 December 2023

Introduction to Epictetus

Born a slave in Hierapolis, Phrygia (present-day Pamukkale, Turkey) around 55 AD, Epictetus rose to become one of the most renowned Stoic philosophers in history. His teachings focused on the distinction between what is within our control and what is not, emphasizing the importance of cultivating inner strength and virtue to navigate the challenges of life.

The Enchiridion: Manual for Living

One of Epictetus's most famous works is 'The Enchiridion', a concise manual that provides practical advice on how to live a virtuous and fulfilling life. In this timeless text, he discusses the Stoic principles of resilience, self-discipline, and acceptance of the natural order, offering guidance on how to achieve peace of mind and emotional equanimity.

From Apollonius I learned freedom of will and undeviating steadiness of purpose; and to look to nothing else, not even for a moment, except to reason; and to be always the same, in sharp pains, on the occasion of the loss of a child, and in long illness; and to see clearly in a living example that the same man can be both most resolute and yielding, and not peevish in giving his instruction; and to have had before my eyes a man who clearly considered his experience and his skill in expounding philosophical principles as the smallest of his merits; and from him I learned how to receive from friends what are esteemed favours, without being either humbled by them or letting them pass unnoticed.

  • Marcus Aurelius

Epictetus's Philosophy in Practice

Epictetus believed that happiness and tranquility could be attained by aligning one's desires with the rational order of the universe and accepting whatever circumstances arise with equanimity. His teachings continue to inspire individuals to cultivate self-mastery, resilience, and moral integrity in the face of life's challenges.

Influence and Legacy

Epictetus's philosophical ideas have had a profound impact on Western thought, influencing philosophers, leaders, and individuals seeking to lead a more meaningful and fulfilled life. His emphasis on personal agency, ethical conduct, and resilience resonates with modern readers grappling with the complexities of the human experience.

Relevance Today

In today's fast-paced and uncertain world, Epictetus's teachings offer invaluable insights into how to navigate adversity, cultivate inner strength, and live a life guided by wisdom and virtue. His emphasis on the power of choice and the importance of moral character continues to be a source of inspiration for those seeking to lead a purposeful and resilient life.

Further Reading and Resources

Delve deeper into Epictetus's philosophy by exploring his written works, including 'Discourses' and 'The Enchiridion'. Additionally, consider reading contemporary interpretations and analyses of his teachings to gain a comprehensive understanding of his enduring influence on ethics, resilience, and personal development.

Written by


Max Thiell

Max writes is a online stoicism content writer. He is passionate about making stoicism accessible for everyone.