Who is Epictetus?

Born a slave in Turkey, the Greek Epictetus ended up as one of the coolest philosophers of his time. Unlike many theoretical wise men, Epictetus practiced what he preached. His Stoic philosophy was and still is a way of life. You should try it. Really!

Books by Epictetus

Quotes by Epictetus

“A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes.”

Epictetus

“A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single
hope.”

Epictetus

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master;
he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”

Epictetus

“Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Attach yourself to what is spiritually superior, regardless of what other people think or do. Hold to your true aspirations no matter what is going on around you.”

Epictetus

“Books are the training weights of the mind.”

Epictetus The Art of Living

“Character matters more than reputation.”

Epictetus

“Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”

Epictetus

“Clearly define the person you want to be.”

Epictetus

“Content yourself with being a lover of wisdom, a seeker of the truth. Return and return again to what is essential and worthy.”

Epictetus

“Control thy passions lest they take vengeance on thee.”

Epictetus

“Conventional thinking – its means and ends – is essentially uncreative and uninteresting. Its job is to preserve the status quo for overly self-defended individuals and institutions.”

Epictetus

“Crows pick out the eyes of the dead, when the dead have no longer need of them; but flatterers mar the soul of the living, and her eyes they blind.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Curb your desire — don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.”

Epictetus

“Desire and aversion, though powerful, are but habits. And we can train ourselves to have better habits. Restrain the habit of being repelled by all those things that aren’t within your control, and focus instead on combating things within your power that are not good for you.”

Epictetus

“Difficulties are things that show a person what they are.”

Epictetus

“Difficulty shows what men are. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Do not try to seem wise to others.”

Epictetus

“Do you wish to be invincible? Then don’t enter into combat with what you have no real control over.”

Epictetus

“Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it.”

Epictetus

“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will – then your life will be serene.”

Epictetus

“Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to.”

Epictetus

“Even as the sun doth not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so thou also wait not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do thy duty; nay, do good of thine own accord, and thou wilt be loved like the sun.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Events do not just happen, but arrive by appointment.”

Epictetus

“Every habit and faculty is preserved and increased by its corresponding actions: The habit of walking makes us better walkers, regular running makes us better runners. It is the same regarding matters of the soul. Whenever you are angry, you increase your anger; you have increased a habit and added fuel to a fire.”

Epictetus

“Except for extreme physical abuse, other people cannot hurt you unless you allow them to.”

Epictetus

“f you appear to be somebody important to others, distrust yourself.”

Epictetus The Enchiridion

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus Discourses

“For it is not death or pain that is to be feared, but the fear of pain or death.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one's desires, but by the removal of desire.”

Epictetus

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”

Epictetus

“From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”

Epictetus

“Grow up! Who cares what other people think about you?”

Epictetus

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can't control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.”

Epictetus The Art of Living

“Happiness is commonly mistaken for passively experienced pleasure or leisure but true happiness is a verb. It’s the ongoing dynamic performance of worthy deeds.”

Epictetus

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”

Epictetus

“He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.”

Epictetus

“How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer.”

Epictetus

“I laugh at those who think they can damage me. They do not know who I am, they do not know what I think, they cannot even touch the things which are really mine and with which I live.”

Epictetus

“I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment?”

Epictetus Discourses

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.”

Epictetus

“If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it.”

Epictetus

“If virtue promises good fortune and tranquility and happiness, certainly also the progress towards virtue is progress towards each of these things.”

Epictetus Discourses

“If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which may tend to its increase.”

Epictetus

“If you think that you have free rein over things that are naturally beyond your control, or if you attempt to adopt the affairs of others as your own, your pursuits will be thwarted and you will become a frustrated, anxious, and fault-finding person.”

Epictetus The Art of Living

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”

Epictetus

“If you would be a reader, read; if you wish to be a writer, write.”

Epictetus

“In any events, however seemingly dire, there is nothing to prevent us from searching for its hidden opportunity. It is a failure of the imagination not to do so. But to seek out the opportunity in situations requires a great deal of courage, for most people around you will persist in interpreting events in the grossest terms: success or failure, good or bad, right or wrong.”

Epictetus

“It is better by assenting to truth to conquer opinion, than by assenting to opinion to be conquered by truth.”

Epictetus Discourses

“It is better to die of hunger having lived without grief and fear, than to live with a troubled spirit, amid abundance.”

Epictetus

“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.”

Epictetus

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

Epictetus Discourses

“It is impossible that happiness, and yearning for what is not present, should ever be united.”

Epictetus

“It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly.”

Epictetus

“It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition; it is the act of one who has begun to be instructed, to lay the blame on himself; and of one whose instruction is completed, neither to blame another, nor himself.”

Epictetus The Enchiridion

“It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them.”

Epictetus

“It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?”

Epictetus Discourses

“It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

Epictetus

“Just because some people are nice to you doesn’t mean you should spend time with them. Just because they seek you out and are interested in you or your affairs doesn’t mean you should associate with them. The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”

Epictetus

“Make the necessary sacrifices that are the price for the worthiest goals: freedom, even-mindedness, and tranquility.”

Epictetus

“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.”

Epictetus

“Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.”

Epictetus The Enchiridion

“Men are not troubled by things themselves, but by their thoughts about them.”

Epictetus

“Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people's weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges in such pastimes. Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind. If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there's no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap.”

Epictetus The Art of Living

“Most people don’t realize that both help and harm come from within ourselves. Instead they look to externals, mesmerized by appearances.”

Epictetus

“Most people tend to delude themselves into thinking that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires and aversions.”

Epictetus

“Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Neither death, nor exile, nor pain, nor anything of this kind is the real cause of our doing or not doing any action, but our inward opinions and principles.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Never depend on the admiration of others. There is no strength in it. Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source.”

Epictetus

“No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”

Epictetus Discourses

“No great thing is created suddenly.”

Epictetus

“No man is free who is not master of himself.”

Epictetus

“Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control.”

Epictetus

“Of pleasures, those which occur most rarely give the most delight.”

Epictetus Discourses

“One of the best ways to elevate your character immediately is to find worthy role models to emulate… We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout.”

Epictetus

“Only the educated are free.”

Epictetus

“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious… If you encounter a downhearted friend, a grieving parent, or a colleague who has suffered a sudden reversal of fortune, be careful not to be overcome yourself by the apparent misfortune.”

Epictetus

“Pleasure, like a kind of bait, is thrown before everything which is really bad, and easily allures greedy souls to the hook of perdition.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Practice having a grateful attitude and you will be happy.”

Epictetus

“Practice self-sufficiency. Don’t remain a dependent, malleable patient: Become your own soul’s doctor.”

Epictetus

“Practice yourself, for heaven's sake; in little things; and thence proceed to greater.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent.”

Epictetus

“Refrain from trying to win other people’s approval and admiration. You are taking a higher road.”

Epictetus

“Remember that you ought to behave in life as you would at a banquet. As something is being passed around it comes to you; stretch out your hand, take a portion of it politely. It passes on; do not detain it. Or it has not come to you yet; do not project your desire to meet it, but wait until it comes in front of you. So act toward children, so toward a wife, so toward office, so toward wealth.”

Epictetus The Enchiridion

“Seek not the good in external things; seek it in yourselves.”

Epictetus

“Seeking to please is a perilous trap.”

Epictetus

“Self-mastery depends on self-honesty.”

Epictetus

“Shall I show you the sinews of a philosopher? "What sinews are those?" — A will undisappointed; evils avoided; powers daily exercised, careful resolutions; unerring decisions.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Small-minded people blame others. Average people blame themselves. The wise see all blame as foolishness.”

Epictetus

“Small-minded people habitually reproach others for their own misfortunes. Average people reproach themselves. Those who are dedicated to a life of wisdom understand that the impulse to blame something or someone is foolishness, that there is nothing to be gained in blaming, whether it be others or oneself.”

Epictetus

“Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self: for that does fall within your control.”

Epictetus

“The difference between the instructed and the ignorant is that the wise know that the virtuous are invincible. They aren’t tricked and provoked by the way things appear to be.”

Epictetus

“The first step to living wisely is to relinquish self-conceit.”

Epictetus

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”

Epictetus

“The rational and the irrational appear such in a different way to different persons, just as the good and the bad, the profitable and the unprofitable.”

Epictetus Discourses

“The surest sign of the higher life is serenity. Moral progress results in freedom from inner turmoil. You can stop fretting about this and that.”

Epictetus

“The virtue that leads to enduring happiness is not a quid pro quo goodness. Goodness in and of itself is the practice and the reward.”

Epictetus

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”

Epictetus

“Things and people are not what we wish them to be nor what they seem to be. They are what they are.”

Epictetus

“This is our predicament: Over and over again, we lose sight of what is important and what isn’t. We crave things over which we have no control, and are not satisfied by the things within our control.”

Epictetus

“Those who pursue the higher life of wisdom, who seek to live by spiritual principles, must be prepared to be laughed at and condemned… Never live your life in reaction to these diminished souls.”

Epictetus

“Thou shalt not blame or flatter any.”

Epictetus

“To accuse others for one's own misfortune is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete.”

Epictetus

“To the rational being only the irrational is unendurable, but the rational is endurable.”

Epictetus Discourses

“Try to be as kind to yourself as possible. Do not measure yourself against others or even against your ideal self. Human betterment is a gradual, two-steps-forward, one-step-back effort.”

Epictetus

“Unless we fully give ourselves over to our endeavors, we are hollow, superficial people and we never develop our natural gifts.”

Epictetus

“Unremarkable lives are marked by the fear of not looking capable when trying something new.”

Epictetus

“View yourself as a citizen of a worldwide community and act accordingly.”

Epictetus

“We must make the best use that we can of the things which are in our power, and use the rest according to their nature.”

Epictetus Discourses

“We should enjoy good fortune while we have it, like the fruits of autumn.”

Epictetus Discourses

“We should not have either a blunt knife or a freedom of speech which is ill-managed.”

Epictetus The Enchiridion

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

Epictetus

“What is a good person? The one who achieves tranquility by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion, “What is the right thing to do now?”

Epictetus

“Whatever you would make habitual, practice it; and if you would not make a thing habitual, do not practice it, but accustom yourself to something else.”

Epictetus Discourses

“When one maintains his proper attitude in life, he does not long after externals.”

Epictetus Discourses

“When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.”

Epictetus

“When the idea of any pleasure strikes your imagination, make a just computation between the duration of the pleasure and that of the repentance that is likely to follow it.”

Epictetus

“When we remember that our aim is spiritual progress, we return to striving to be our best selves. This is how happiness is won.”

Epictetus

“Wisdom is revealed through action, not talk.”

Epictetus

“You are a little soul carrying around a corpse.”

Epictetus

“You may fetter my leg, but my will not even Zeus himself can overpower.”

Epictetus Discourses

“You will do the greatest service to the state, if you shall raise not the roofs of the houses, but the souls of the citizens.”

Epictetus

“You will never earn the same rewards as others without employing the same methods and investment of time as they do. It is unreasonable to think we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price.”

Epictetus