Epictetus was a renowned Greek-Roman philosopher who emerged during the Hellenistic period . He managed to overcome great obstacles to go from being a crippled Roman slave to becoming one of the most popular and acclaimed philosophers of his time. He was one of the most influential teachers of the later years of the school of Stoicism , and is regarded by some as the most important representative of the Stoics .

  • When was born:  50 d. C.
  • Where he was born:  Hierapolis, Turkey
  • When he died:  135 AD. C.
  • Where he died:  Nicopolis, Greece

Who was Epictetus?

He was a Roman slave of Epaphroditus and a Stoic philosopher who devoted himself fully to studying philosophy and how to lead a life based on the moral aspect . Main representative of Stoicism .

  • Biography of Epictetus
  • Thought of Epictetus
  • Contributions
  • Works of Epictetus
  • Life manual
  • Phrases

Biography of Epictetus

Epictetus was born around AD 55. C. in the Roman city of Hierapolis . He spent his youth living in Rome as a slave to Epaphroditus, who was a wealthy freedman and secretary to the Roman Emperor Nero . He was lame from birth, although some historians mention that he could have been left in this condition because of Epaphroditus. Although a simple slave, he devoted himself to studying Stoic philosophy under one of the greatest Stoic teachers of the time, Gaius Musonius Rufus , before being exiled from Nero for his ethical teachings. He managed to get his freedom after his teacher was executed by Nero’s successor, the Emperor Domitian, and after his release he began teaching philosophy in Rome . In 93 BC, the emperor Domitian decided to banish all the philosophers from Rome, which is why Epictetus decided to travel to Nicopolis , a city located in northwestern Greece. Here, he founded his own school of philosophy , a school that quickly acquired a good reputation, attracting many Romans from the upper class. His life was surrounded by great simplicity, and he had very few possessions. According to historians, he was a powerful and famous orator widely recognized for hisknowledge and wisdom . According to some reports, he was more popular in his day than Plato himself , and the Emperor Hadrian. He never married and had no children, and for many years he lived alone, although in his old age he adopted a friend’s son and raised him as his own. Epictetus died around 135 BC in Nicopolis.


Thought of Epictetus

Epictetus focused primarily on ethics and came to the logical conclusion of the tendency of Stoicism to reduce philosophy to Ethics. He used the role of the Stoic teacher as an encouragement for his students to discover the invariable and inviolable nature of things. For Epictetus, the nature of things is divided into two categories: things that are subject to our exclusive power such as judgment, impulse, desire, aversion, and those things that are not, such as health, material wealth, fame. . To achieve the ultimate goal of ataraxiaor calm and serene state of mind, he thought that the philosopher should concentrate on those things over which he has some control , and not be affected by external objects in our life that could not be controlled. In this way, Stoicism teaches the development of self – control and fortitude as a means to overcome destructive emotions , in order to develop clear judgment and inner calm, the main objective of which was to achieve freedom from suffering . He also believed that you should exercise to achieve character and behavior.personal since morale could not be achieved solely by chance or accident , but was something that had to be worked on every day. His thinking can be considered one of the main roots of the psychology of self-control, as he managed to exert a great influence on the thinkers who followed him. For him, the most important thing is what we become and the type of life we lead because a happy and virtuous life are the same thing.


Epictetus founded a practical philosophy that was directed mainly to find a way to live better, happily and with dignity, to achieve at the same time freedom and autonomy . He left his principle as a legacy: to know what can be controlled and what can be controlled . He taught with his theory that the human being should focus on what he can control and discard the rest of the things. He inherited these principles to philosophythat tells us that things do not have the capacity to hurt us and that the things that hurt us are merely because we decide whether to take it easy or to sink because of anger. He also taught that the will of the human being can always be controlled . It had a great influence on cognitive psychology .

Works of Epictetus

Some of his most important works are:

  • A manual of life.
  • Life manual.
  • Manual for happy life.
  • Inquiry.
  • Maxims of Epictetus.
  • Dissertations by Arriano.

Life manual

His life manual is an exhortation to lead a good life , his reflections and maxims remain attached to the reality of existence to form a philosophical model of our daily conduct to achieve a happy and peaceful life . It tells us about how we should live daily, the correct way to judge the things that happen to us, how to speak, how to laugh, the correct way to take care of our body and our diet. It focuses on love and pleasures , friends, society, and how to deal with accidents and misfortunes.


  • When you have to sentence, try to forget the litigants and remember only the cause .
  • Just as there is an art of good speech , there is an art of good listening .
  • The prudence is the highest of all goods.
  • Don’t expect things to happen the way you want them to. Rather, wish that they occur as they occur, and you will be happy.
  • A ship should not sail with a single anchor, nor life with a single hope .
  • The pleasures rare are the ones we delight.
  • The source of all miseries for man is not death, but fear of death .

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