Quotes by Epictetus
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Epictetus. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Epictetus
Epictetus (Greek: Ἐπίκτητος, Epíktētos; c. 50 – c. 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey) 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 whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.
Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly.
No great thing is created suddenly.
No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.
The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.
Only the educated are free.
Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.
Silence is safer than speech.
Difficulty shows what men are.
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.
God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be a conqueror, and this cannot be without toil.
Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public.
I have a lantern. You steal my lantern. What, then, is your honor worth no more to you than the price of my lantern!
A vulgar man, in any ill that happens to him, blames others; a novice in philosophy blames himself; and a philosopher blames neither, the one nor the other.
If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.
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.
To make anything a habit, do it; to not make it a habit, do not do it; to unmake a habit, do something else in place of it.
We should realize that an opinion is not easily formed unless a person says and hears the same things every day and practises them in real life.
To adorn our characters by the charm of an amiable nature shows at once a lover of beauty and a lover of man.
When our friends are present we ought to treat them well; and when they are absent, to speak of them well.
Against specious appearances we must set clear convictions, bright and ready for use. When death appears as an evil, we ought immediately to remember that evils are things to be avoided, but death is inevitable.
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.
When men are unhappy, they do not imagine they can ever cease to be so; and when some calamity has fallen on them, they do not see how they can get rid of it. Nevertheless, both arrive; and the gods have ordered it so, in the end men seek it from the gods.
When the Idea, of any Pleasure strikes your Imagination... let that time be employed in making a just Computation between, the duration of the Pleasure, and that of the Repentance sure to follow it.
What is the first business of one who practices philosophy? To get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.
Be not diverted from your duty by any idle reflections the silly world may make upon you, for their censures are not in your power and should not be at all your concerns.
Fight against yourself, recover yourself to decency, to modesty, to freedom. And, in the first place, condemn your actions; but when you have condemned them, do not despair of yourself. For both ruin and recovery are from within.
Ask yourself, How are my thoughts, words and deeds affecting my friends, my spouse, my neighbour, my child, my employer, my subordinates, my fellow citizens?
In a word, 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.
Consider first the nature of the business in hand; then examine thy own nature, whether thou hast strength to undertake it.
If you think you control things that are in the control of others, you will lament. You will be disturbed and you will blame both gods and men.
Law intends indeed to do service to human life, but it is not able when men do not choose to accept her services; for it is only in those who are obedient to her that she displays her special virtue.
The condition and characteristic of an uninstructed person is this: he never expects from himself profit (advantage) nor harm, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is this: he expects all advantage and all harm from himself.
If virtue promises happiness, prosperity and peace, then progress in virtue is progress in each of these for to whatever point the perfection of anything brings us, progress is always an approach toward it.
Since it is Reason which shapes and regulates all other things, it ought not itself to be left in disorder.
When any person treats you ill or speaks ill of you, remember that he does this or says this because he thinks it is his duty. It is not possible, then, for him to follow that which seems right to you, but that which seems right to himself.
There is but one way to tranquility of mind and happiness, and that is to account no external things thine own, but to commit all to God.
It is the part of an uneducated person to blame others where he himself fares ill; to blame himself is the part of one whose education has begun; to blame neither another nor his own self is the part of one whose education is already complete.
Each man's life is a kind of campaign, and a long and complicated one at that. You have to maintain the character of a soldier, and do each separate act at the bidding of the General.
Don't be concerned with other people's impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence.
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.
The flourishing life cannot be achieved until we moderate our desires and see how superficial and fleeting they are.
By accepting life's limits and inevitabilities and working with them rather than fighting them, we become free.
We need to regularly stop and take stock; to sit down and determine within ourselves which things are worth valuing and which things are not; which risks are worth the cost and which are not. Even the most confusing or hurtful aspects of life can be made more tolerable by clear seeing and by choice.
Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions.
Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions. Vigilantly practice polite indifference to that which we can't control. Your happiness can only be found within.
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.
Watch yourself as you go about your daily business and later reflect on what you saw, trying to identify the sources of distress in your life and thinking about how to avoid that distress.
Never depend on the admiration of others for self-satisfaction. It is a fact of life that other people, even people who love you, will not necessarily agree with your ideas, understand you always, or share your enthusiasms.
Focus not on what he or she does, but on keeping to your higher purpose. Your own purpose should seek harmony with nature itself. For this is the true road to freedom.
In theory it is easy to convince an ignorant person; in actual life, men not only object to offer themselves to be convinced, but hate the man who has convinced them.
If anyone should tell you that a particular person has spoken critically of you, don't bother with excuses or defenses. Just smile and reply, I guess that person doesn't know about all my other faults. Otherwise, he wouldn't have mentioned only these.
Dare to look up to God and say, Deal with me in the future as Thou wilt; I am of the same mind as Thou art; I am Thine; I refuse nothing that pleases Thee; lead me where Thou wilt; clothe me in any dress Thou choosest.
Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig.
Nothing great 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.
If someone in the street were entrusted with your body, you would be furious. Yet you entrust your mind to anyone around who happens to insult you, and allow it to be troubled and confused. Aren't you ashamed of that?
Remember that you are but an actor, acting whatever part the Master has ordained. It may be short or it may be long. If he wishes you to represent a poor man, do so heartily; if a cripple, or a magistrate, or a private man, in each case act your part with honor.
A vulgar man, in any ill that happens to him, blames others; a novice in philosophy blames himself; and a philosopher blames neither, the one nor the other.
It is unreasonable to think we can earn rewards without being willing to pay their true price. It is always our choice whether or not we wish to pay the price for life's rewards.
The soul's impurity consists in bad judgements, and purification consists in producing in it right judgements, and the pure soul is one which has right judgements, for this alone is proof against confusion and pollution in its functions.
O slavish man! will you not bear with your own brother, who has God for his Father, as being a son from the same stock, and of the same high descent? But if you chance to be placed in some superior station, will you presently set yourself up for a tyrant?
But to be hanged -- is that not unendurable? Even so, when a man feels that it is reasonable, he goes off and hangs himself.
If you have assumed a character above your strength, you have both acted in this matter in an unbecoming way, and you have neglected that which you might have fulfilled.
Be not swept off your feet by the vividness of the impression, but say, Impression, wait for me a little. Let me see what you are and what you represent. Let me try you.
When we act pugnaciously, and injuriously, and angrily, and rudely, to what level have we degenerated? To the level of the wild beasts. Well, the fact is that some of us are wild beasts of a larger size, while others are little animals, malignant and petty.
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: for it is better that great souls should dwell in small houses rather than for mean slaves to lurk in great houses.
Nothing outside the will can hinder or harm the will; it can only harm itself. If then we accept this, and, when things go amiss, are inclined to blame ourselves, remembering that judgment alone can disturb our peace and constancy, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress.
He is free who lives as he wishes to live; who is neither subject to compulsion nor to hindrance, nor to force; whose movements to action are not impeded, whose desires attain their purpose, and who does not fall into that which he would avoid.
As you think, so you become... Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren't there.
If we are not stupid or insincere when we say that the good or ill of man lies within his own will, and that all beside is nothing to us, why are we still troubled?
It is not my place in society that makes me well off, but my judgements, and these I can carry with me... These alone are my own and cannot be taken away.
If I can acquire money and also keep myself modest and faithful and magnanimous, point out the way, and I will acquire it.
Pleasure, like a kind of bait, is thrown before everything which is really bad, and easily allures greedy souls to the hook of perdition.
To admonish is better than to reproach for admonition is mild and friendly, but reproach is harsh and insulting; and admonition corrects those who are doing wrong, but reproach only convicts them.
To know that you do not know and to be willing to admit that you do not know without sheepishly apologizing is real strength and sets the stage for learning and progress in any endeavor.
The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It is not he who gives abuse that affronts, but the view that we take of it as insulting; so that when one provokes you it is your own opinion which is provoking.
When you actively engage in gradually refining yourself, you retreat from your lazy ways of covering yourself or making excuses. Instead of feeling a persistent current of low-level shame, you move forward by using the creative possibilities of this moment, your current situation.
Isn't reading a kind of preparation for life?'
But life is composed of things other than books. It is as if an athlete, on entering the stadium, were to complain that he's not outside exercising.This was the goal of your exercise, of your weights, your practice ring and your training partners.
No one who is in a state of fear or sorrow or tension is free, but whosoever is delivered from sorrows or fears or anxieties is at the same time delivered from servitude.
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.
Never call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal among the unlearned about theorems, but act conformably to them. Thus, at an entertainment, don't talk how persons ought to eat, but
eat as you ought. For remember that in this manner Socrates also universally avoided all ostentation.
It is difficulties that show what men are. For the future, in case of any difficulty, remember that God, like a gymnastic trainer, has pitted you against a rough antagonist. For what end? That you may be an Olympic conqueror; and this cannot be without toil.
When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities. You become what you give your attention to.
Other people's views and troubles can be contagious. Don't sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.
It is not the events but our viewpoint toward events that is the determining factor. We ought to be more concerned about removing wrong thoughts from the mind than removing tumors and abscesses from the body.
Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.
As a man, casting off worn out garments taketh new ones, so the dweller in the body, entereth into ones that are new.
The soul that companies with virtue is like an ever-flowing source. It is a pure, clear, and wholesome draught, sweet, rich and generous of its store, that injures not, neither destroys.
It has been ordained that there be summer and winter, abundance and dearth, virtue and vice, and all such opposites for the harmony of the whole, and (Zeus) has given each of us a body, property, and companions.
Forgiveness is better than revenge, for forgiveness is the sign of a gentle nature, but revenge is the sign of a savage nature. the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Let your will to avoid have no concern with what is not in man's power; direct it only to things in man's power that are contrary to nature.
As the sun does not wait for prayers and incantations tob e induced to rise, but immediately shines and is saluted by all, so do you also not wait for clappings of hands and shouts of praise tob e induced to do good, but be a doer of good voluntarily and you will be beloved as much as the sun.
When you close your doors, and make darkness within, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not alone; nay, God is within, and your genius is within. And what need have they of light to see what you are doing?
A soul which is conversant with virtue is like an ever flowing source, for it is pure and tranquil and potable and sweet and communicative (social) and rich and harmless and free from mischief.
It's so simple really: If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it.
Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control.
Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. Sickness may challenge your body. But are you merely your body? Lameness may impede your legs. But you are not merely your legs. Your will is bigger than your legs. Your will needn't be affected by an incident unless you let it.
Don't seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.
Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths.
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.
What would Heracles have been if he had said, How am I to prevent a big lion from appearing, or a big boar, or brutal men? What care you, I say? If a big boar appears, you will have a greater struggle to engage in; if evil men appear, you will free the world from evil men.
The philosopher's lecture room is a 'hospital': you ought not to walk out of it in a state of pleasure, but in pain; for you are not in good condition when you arrive.
Here are thieves and robbers and tribunals: and they that are called tyrants, who deem that they have after a fashion power over us, because of the miserable body and what appertains to it. Let us show them that they have power over none.
Sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy.
When a youth was giving himself airs in the Theatre and saying, 'I am wise, for I have conversed with many wise men,' Epictetus replied, 'I too have conversed with many rich men, yet I am not rich!'.
Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?
When you do anything from a clear judgment that it ought to be done, never shrink from being seen to do it, even though the world should misunderstand it; for if you are not acting rightly, shun the action itself; if you are, why fear those who wrongly censure you?
For I am not everlasting, but a human being, a part of the whole as an hour is a part of the day. Like an hour I must come, and like an hour pass away.
When you are alone, you should call this tranquility and freedom and when you are with many you shouldn't call this a crowd, or trouble or uneasiness but festival and company and contentedly accept it.
For in this Case, we are not to give Credit to the Many, who say, that none ought to be educated but the Free; but rather to the Philosophers, who say, that the Well-educated alone are free.
Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person's own life.
It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly.
What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.
Let whatever appears to be the best be to you an inviolable law. And if any instance of pain or pleasure, glory or disgrace, be set before you, remember that now is the combat, now the Olympiad comes on, nor can it be put off; and that by one failure and defeat honor may be lost or--won.
Don't just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents." Translation by Sharon Lebell.
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.
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".
We can't control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character.
Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control. Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self: for that does fall within your control.
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?
It is not external events themselves that cause us distress, but the way in which we think about them…It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.
Do not seek to have everything that happens happen as you wish, but wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen, and your life will be serene.
Some things are in our control and others not.
Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions.
Any person capable of angering you becomes your master. They can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by them.
Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours.
If anyone is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault. Nothing else is the cause of anxiety or loss of tranquility except our own opinion.
Find significance within yourself. Within your own sphere of power -- that is where you have the greatest consequence.
Keep in mind that you are an actor in a play that is just the way the producer wants it to be…Your job is to put on a splendid performance of the role you have been given.