Epictetus quotes

Epictetus photo
150   3

Epictetus

Birthdate: 50 AC
Date of death: 138
Other names: Epiktétos z Hierápole

Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia 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 just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept calmly and dispassionately whatever happens. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

„Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words.“

—  Epictetus

Context: Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words. We shall, however, when occasion demands, enter into discourse sparingly, avoiding such common topics as gladiators, horse-races, athletes; and the perpetual talk about food and drink. Above all avoid speaking of persons, either in the way of praise or blame, or comparison. If you can, win over the conversation of your company to what it should be by your own. But if you should find yourself cut off without escape among strangers and aliens, be silent. (164).

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

—  Epictetus

Book III, ch. 23.
Discourses
Original: (el) Τίς εἶναι θέλεις, σαυτῷ πρῶτον εἰπέ: εἶθ' οὕτως ποίει ἃ ποιεῖς.

„Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man's task.“

—  Epictetus

Book I, ch. 27.
Discourses
Context: 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.

„This whole world is one great City, and one is the substance whereof it is fashioned“

—  Epictetus

Context: This whole world is one great City, and one is the substance whereof it is fashioned: a certain period indeed there needs must be, while these give place to those; some must perish for others to succeed; some move and some abide: yet all is full of friends—first God, then Men, whom Nature hath bound by ties of kindred each to each. (123).

„What you shun enduring yourself, attempt not to impose on others. You shun slavery—beware of enslaving others!“

—  Epictetus

Context: What you shun enduring yourself, attempt not to impose on others. You shun slavery—beware of enslaving others! If you can endure to do that, one would think you had been once upon a time a slave yourself. For Vice has nothing in common with virtue, nor Freedom with slavery. (41).

„Above all avoid speaking of persons, either in the way of praise or blame, or comparison. If you can, win over the conversation of your company to what it should be by your own. But if you should find yourself cut off without escape among strangers and aliens, be silent.“

—  Epictetus

Context: Let silence be your general rule; or say only what is necessary and in few words. We shall, however, when occasion demands, enter into discourse sparingly, avoiding such common topics as gladiators, horse-races, athletes; and the perpetual talk about food and drink. Above all avoid speaking of persons, either in the way of praise or blame, or comparison. If you can, win over the conversation of your company to what it should be by your own. But if you should find yourself cut off without escape among strangers and aliens, be silent. (164).

„Appearances to the mind are of four kinds.“

—  Epictetus

Book I, ch. 27.
Discourses
Context: 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.

„Man, if thou art aught, strive to walk alone and hold converse with yourself, instead of skulking in the chorus! at length think; look around thee; bestir thyself, that thou mayest know who thou art!“

—  Epictetus

Context: Even as bad actors cannot sing alone, but only in chorus: so some cannot walk alone. Man, if thou art aught, strive to walk alone and hold converse with yourself, instead of skulking in the chorus! at length think; look around thee; bestir thyself, that thou mayest know who thou art! (103).

Help us translate English quotes

Discover interesting quotes and translate them.

Start translating

„A Philosopher's school is a Surgery: pain, not pleasure, you should have felt therein. For on entering none of you is whole.“

—  Epictetus

Context: A Philosopher's school is a Surgery: pain, not pleasure, you should have felt therein. For on entering none of you is whole. One has a shoulder out of joint, another an abscess: a third suffers from an issue, a forth pains in the head. And am I then to sit down and treat you to pretty sentiments and empty fluourishes, so that you may applaud me and depart, with neither shoulder, nor head, nor issue, nor abscess a whit the better for your visit? Is it then for this that young men are to quit their homes, and leave parents, friends, kinsmen and substance to mouth out Bravo to your empty phrases! (121).

„You are impatient and hard to please.“

—  Epictetus

Context: You are impatient and hard to please. If alone, you call it solitude: if in the company of men, you dub them conspirators and thieves, and find fault with your very parents, children, brothers and neighbours. Whereas when by yourself you should have called it Tranquillity and Freedom: and herein deemed yourself like unto the Gods. And when in the company of the many, you should not have called it a wearisome crowd and tumult, but an assembly and a tribunal; and thus accepted all with contentment. What then is the chastisement of those who accept it not? To be as they are. Is any discontented with being alone? let him be in solitude. Is any discontented with his parents? let him be a bad son, and lament. Is any discontented with his children? let him be a bad father.—"Throw him into prison!"—What prison?—Where he is already: for he is there against his will; and wherever a man is against his will, that to him is a prison. Thus Socrates was not in prison since he was there with his own consent. (31 & 32).

„What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death? If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may not be found engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for this—what none may hinder, what is surely in my power—that I may be found raising up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely with the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of life“

—  Epictetus

Context: What wouldst thou be found doing when overtaken by Death? If I might choose, I would be found doing some deed of true humanity, of wide import, beneficent and noble. But if I may not be found engaged in aught so lofty, let me hope at least for this—what none may hinder, what is surely in my power—that I may be found raising up in myself that which had fallen; learning to deal more wisely with the things of sense; working out my own tranquillity, and thus rendering that which is its due to every relation of life…. If death surprise me thus employed, it is enough if I can stretch forth my hands to God and say, “The faculties which I received at Thy hands for apprehending this thine Administration, I have not neglected. As far as in me lay, I have done Thee no dishonour. Behold how I have used the senses, the primary conceptions which Thou gavest me. Have I ever laid anything to Thy charge? Have I ever murmured at aught that came to pass, or wished it otherwise? Have I in anything transgressed the relations of life? For that Thou didst beget me, I thank Thee for that Thou hast given: for the time during which I have used the things that were Thine, it suffices me. Take them back and place them wherever Thou wilt! They were all Thine, and Thou gavest them me.”—If a man depart thus minded, is it not enough? What life is fairer or more noble, what end happier than his? (189).

„Not even on finding himself in a well-ordered house does a man step forward and say to himself, I must be master here! Else the lord of that house“

—  Epictetus

Context: Not even on finding himself in a well-ordered house does a man step forward and say to himself, I must be master here! Else the lord of that house takes notice of it, and, seeing him insolently giving orders, drags him forth and chastises him. So it is also in the great City, the World. Here also is there a Lord of the House, who orders all things... (110).

„A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings him back to the right path—he does not mock and jeer at him and then take himself off.“

—  Epictetus

Context: A guide, on finding a man who has lost his way, brings him back to the right path—he does not mock and jeer at him and then take himself off. You also must show the unlearned man the truth, and you will see that he will follow. But so long as you do not show it him, you should not mock, but rather feel your own incapacity. (63).

„If what charms you is nothing but abstract principles“

—  Epictetus

Context: If what charms you is nothing but abstract principles, sit down and turn them over quietly in your mind: but never dub yourself a Philosopher, nor suffer others to call you so. Say rather: He is in error; for my desires, my impulses are unaltered. I give in my adhesion to what I did before; nor had my mode of dealing with the things of sense undergone any change. (109).

„God hath introduced Man to be a spectator of Himself and of His works; and“

—  Epictetus

Context: But God hath introduced Man to be a spectator of Himself and of His works; and not a spectator only, but also an interpreter of them. Wherefore it is a shame for man to begin and to leave off where the brutes do. Rather he should begin there, and leave off where Nature leaves off in us: and that is at contemplation, and understanding, and a manner of life that is in harmony with herself. See then that ye die not without being spectators of these things. (13).

„Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot.“

—  Epictetus

The Enchiridion (c. 135)
Variant: Everything has two handles, one by which it may be borne, the other by which it may not.
Context: Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be carried, the other by which it cannot. If your brother acts unjustly, don't lay hold on the action by the handle of his injustice, for by that it cannot be carried; but by the opposite, that he is your brother, that he was brought up with you; and thus you will lay hold on it, as it is to be carried. (43).

„He has disposed that there should be“

—  Epictetus

Context: True instruction is this: —to learn to wish that each thing should come to pass as it does. And how does it come to pass? As the Disposer has disposed it. Now He has disposed that there should be summer and winter, and plenty and dearth, and vice and virtue, and all such opposites, for the harmony of the whole. (26).

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

Similar authors

Thales photo
Thales8
ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician
Xenophon photo
Xenophon18
ancient Greek historian and philosopher
Epicurus photo
Epicurus26
ancient Greek philosopher
Zeno of Citium photo
Zeno of Citium9
ancient Greek philosopher
Protagoras photo
Protagoras6
pre-Socratic Greek philosopher
Hippocrates photo
Hippocrates33
ancient Greek physician
Démosthenés photo
Démosthenés11
ancient greek statesman and orator
Aeschylus photo
Aeschylus114
ancient Athenian playwright
Pythagoras photo
Pythagoras121
ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher
Platón photo
Platón62
Classical Greek philosopher
Today anniversaries
Pablo Picasso photo
Pablo Picasso127
Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stag… 1881 - 1973
Geoffrey Chaucer photo
Geoffrey Chaucer98
English poet 1343 - 1400
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky photo
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky4
Russian composer 1840 - 1893
Georges Bizet photo
Georges Bizet2
French composer 1838 - 1875
Another 59 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Thales photo
Thales8
ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician
Xenophon photo
Xenophon18
ancient Greek historian and philosopher
Epicurus photo
Epicurus26
ancient Greek philosopher
Zeno of Citium photo
Zeno of Citium9
ancient Greek philosopher
Protagoras photo
Protagoras6
pre-Socratic Greek philosopher