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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.

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Difficulty shows what men are.

--Epictetus

Longer Version:

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.


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God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be a conqueror, and this cannot be without toil.

--Epictetus
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Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public.

--Epictetus
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I have a lantern. You steal my lantern. What, then, is your honor worth no more to you than the price of my lantern!

--Epictetus
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Practice yourself in little things, and thence proceed to greater.

--Epictetus
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When one maintains her proper attitude in life, he does not long after externals.

--Epictetus
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The appearance of things to the mind is the standard of every action to man.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.

--Epictetus
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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
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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.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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To adorn our characters by the charm of an amiable nature shows at once a lover of beauty and a lover of man.

--Epictetus
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When our friends are present we ought to treat them well; and when they are absent, to speak of them well.

--Epictetus

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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.

--Epictetus

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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.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus

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Confident because of our caution.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus

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A ship should not be held by a single anchor; neither should life depend upon a single hope.

--Epictetus
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Don't regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours.

--Epictetus
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The essence of good and evil is a certain disposition of the will.

--Epictetus
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We are not disturbed by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us.

--Epictetus
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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?

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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I am not eternity, but a man; a part of the whole, as an hour is of the day.

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

--Epictetus
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Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men!

--Epictetus
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If you wish to be good, first believe that you are bad.

--Epictetus
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To pay homage to beauty is to admire Nature; to admire Nature is to worship God.

--Epictetus

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Consider first the nature of the business in hand; then examine thy own nature, whether thou hast strength to undertake it.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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What is death? A scary mask. Take it off-see, it doesn't bite.

--Epictetus

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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.

--Epictetus
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In short, we do not abandon any discipline for despair of ever being the best in it.

--Epictetus

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Who is not attracted by bright and pleasant children, to prattle, to creep, and to play with them?

--Epictetus
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Not things, but opinions about things, trouble men.

--Epictetus

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The cause of all human evils is the not being able to apply general principles to special cases.

--Epictetus
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Act well your given part; the choice rests not with you.

--Epictetus

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What is learned without pleasure is forgotten without remorse.

--Epictetus
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Since it is Reason which shapes and regulates all other things, it ought not itself to be left in disorder.

--Epictetus

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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.

--Epictetus

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The foolish and the uneducated have little use for freedom. Only the educated are free.

--Epictetus
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No man is able to make progress when he is wavering between opposite things.

--Epictetus
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Events do not just happen, but arrive by appointment.

--Epictetus
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Consider the bigger picture.....think things through and fully commit!

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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Cowardice, the dread of what will happen.

--Epictetus
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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
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The flourishing life cannot be achieved until we moderate our desires and see how superficial and fleeting they are.

--Epictetus
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By accepting life's limits and inevitabilities and working with them rather than fighting them, we become free.

--Epictetus

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Authentic happiness is always independent of external conditions.

--Epictetus

Longer Version:

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.



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The origin of sorrow is this: to wish for something that does not come to pass.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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Exceed due measure, and the most delightful things become the least delightful.

--Epictetus

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

--Epictetus

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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.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus


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Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig.

--Epictetus

Longer Version:

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.




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The good or ill of a man lies within his own will.

--Epictetus
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It were no slight attainment could we merely fulfil what the nature of man implies.

--Epictetus

Longer Version:

You know yourself what you are worth in your own eyes; and at what price you will sell yourself. For men sell themselves at various prices. This is why, when Florus was deliberating whether he should appear at Nero's shows, taking part in the performance himself, Agrippinus replied, 'Appear by all means.' And when Florus inquired, 'But why do not you appear?' he answered, 'Because I do not even consider the question.' For the man who has once stooped to consider such questions, and to reckon up the value of external things, is not far from forgetting what manner of man he is.


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Men are not afraid of things, but of how they view them.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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He who is not happy with little will never be happy with much.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus

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Check your passions that you may not be punished by them.

--Epictetus
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No person is free who is not master of himself.

--Epictetus

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A man that seeks truth and loves it must be reckoned precious to any human society.

--Epictetus
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But to be hanged -- is that not unendurable? Even so, when a man feels that it is reasonable, he goes off and hangs himself.

--Epictetus
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To the rational being only the irrational is unendurable, but the rational is endurable.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus
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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.

--Epictetus

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The pleasure which we most rarely experience gives us greatest delight.

--Epictetus



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