Who is Epictetus?

From the Encyclopaedia Britannica on Epictetus, because I’ll be posting various things from Enchiridion.

Epictetus, (born AD 55, probably at Hierapolis, Phrygia [now Pamukkale, Turkey]—died c. AD 135, Nicopolis, Epirus [Greece]), a Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, & remembered for the religious tone of his teachings, which commended him to numerous early Christian thinkers.

His original name is not known; epiktētos is the Greek word meaning “acquired,  ”   which reflects  as a boy he was a slave. but nonetheless managed to attend lectures by the Stoic Musonius Rufus & later became a freedman. He lived his life lame, and was in ill health.

In AD 90, Epictetus, as well as other Stoics,  was expelled from Rome along  by the emperor Domitian, who was  very irritated by his ongoing criticism of his tyrannical rule.  Epictetus spent the remainder of his life, in  Nicopolis, Palestine

As far as is known, Epictetus like Sokrates,  wrote nothing. His teachings were transmitted by Arrian, his pupil, in two works: The Discourses, of which four books are extant; and the The Encheiridion, or Manual, which is a condensed aphoristic version of his  main doctrines.

True education, he believed, consists in recognizing that there is only one thing that belongs to an individual fully—his will, or purpose.

God, acting as a good king and father, has given each being a will that cannot be compelled or thwarted by anything external.  Men then are not responsible for the ideas that present themselves to their consciousness, though they are wholly responsible for the way in which they use them.

“Two maxims,” Epictetus said, “we must ever bear in mind—that apart from the will,  there is nothing good or bad, and that we must not try to anticipate or to direct events, but merely to accept them with intelligence.”  To do this, Man must believe there is a God whose thought directs the universe.

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2 thoughts on “Who is Epictetus?

  1. Pingback: The Leather Library / The Manual, or Enchiridion - A look at Epictetus
  2. Pingback: The Manual, or Enchiridion – A look at Epicetus’ Stoic Guidebook | The Leather Library

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