Epictetus: 263 selected quotes

New e-booklet! Epictetus: 263 Selected Quotes. I began to practice Stoicism in 2014, and my first encounter with the philosophy was through the reading of Epictetus. It simply blew my mind. Or rather, the way Epictetus comes across through the writings of his student Arrian of Nicomedia, blew my mind, since Epictetus himself never wrote anything. And moreover, we have apparently lost half of Arrian’s Discourses, having been left with only four of the original eight volumes.

Epictetus was born a slave in Hierapolis (modern day Pamukkale, western Turkey) in the year 55 CE, and died in Nicopolis (western Greece) in 135 CE, having become the most famous teacher of practical philosophy of his time. His influence has reverberated through the millennia, as his Enchiridion (the Manual) was used as a training handbook of spiritual exercises by Christian monks during the middle ages, and has he influenced Renaissance scholars and philosophers, as well as generals and statesmen (including both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson).

Epictetus is blunt, his presentation of philosophy accompanied by a sharp sense of humor that borders on sarcasm (and sometimes clearly and willfully crosses that border!). He speaks frankly to his students, and to us, telling us all that if we don’t practice what we learn we are just wasting our time — and his. And remember, this is the only time allotted to us by the cosmic web of cause-effect that the ancient Stoics called “god.”

This booklet is not a commentary, but simply a selection of what I personally find to be Epictetus’ most powerful quotes, each sourced so that the interested reader can trace it back to its broader context. Use this booklet as a continuous source of inspiration, as life in the 21st century isn’t that different, in many respects, from that of 1st century Rome. Enjoy and reflect.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Epictetus, selected quotes: Discourses, volume I
  • Epictetus, selected quotes: Discourses, volume II
  • Epictetus, selected quotes: Discourses, volume III
  • Epictetus, selected quotes: Discourses, volume IV
  • Epictetus, selected quotes: Enchiridion
  • Epictetus, selected quotes: Fragments

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Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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