Dusty Quotations


Who is Epictetus?

Epictetus (/ˌɛpɪkˈtiːtəs/; Greek: Ἐπίκτητος, Epíktētos; c. 50 – c. 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born into slavery at HierapolisPhrygia (present-day Pamukkale, in western Turkey) and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. 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 simply a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

Epictetus appears in a 2nd or 3rd century Dialogue between the Emperor Hadrian and Epictetus the Philosopher. This short Latin text consists of seventy-three short questions supposedly posed by Hadrian and answered by Epictetus. This dialogue was very popular in the Middle Ages with many translations and adaptations.

The philosophy of Epictetus influenced the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121 to AD 180), who cites Epictetus in his Meditations.

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