Epictetus (Επίκτητος ) (55 c.135) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was probably born at Hierapolis, Phrygia, lived most of his life in Rome until his exile to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece, where he died. The name given by his parents, if one was given, is not known - the word epiktetos in Greek simply means "acquired."
Epictetus spent his youth as a slave in Rome to Epaphroditos, a very wealthy freedman of Nero. Even as a slave, Epictetus used his time productively, studying Stoic Philosophy under Musonius Rufus. He was eventually freed and lived a relatively hard life in ill health in Rome. It is known that he became crippled, most likely from extreme rheumatism. He was exiled along with other philosophers by the emperor Domitian in 89.
It was Epictetus' exile by Domitian that began what would later come to be the most celebrated part of his life. After his exile, Epictetus traveled to Nicopolis, Greece, where he founded a famed philosophical school. This school was even visited by Hadrian, and its most famous student, Arrian, became a great historian in his own right.
True to Stoic form, Epictetus lived a life of great simplicity, marked by teaching and intellectual pursuits. He is known to have married once, late in life, to help raise a child who would have otherwise been left to die.
Epictetus' main work is the Enchiridion --or "Handbook", while his longer works are known as The Discourses. It is not believed that Epictetus wrote these, himself, but that they were penned by his pupil, Arrian. Like the early Stoics, Epictetus focused on ethics and on being masters of our own lives. The role of the Stoic teacher, according to Epictetus, was to encourage his students to live the philosophic life, whose end was eudaimonia (‘happiness’ or ‘flourishing’), to be secured by living the life of reason, which meant living virtuously and living ‘according to the will of nature’.
Don't be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. If a horse should be prideful and say, " I am handsome," it would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, " I have a handsome horse," know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own? Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride in some good of your own. Epictetus
Epictetus (http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/epictetu.htm) entry at The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Books of the Discourses (http://www.philosophyarchive.com/text.php?era=100-199&author=Epictetus&text=Discourses)
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