Epictetus Quotes


Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher born in Hierapolis, Phrygia (present-day Pamukkale, Turkey) in 55 AD. He was a slave during his early life and served under Epaphroditus, a high-ranking official in the court of Emperor Nero. Epictetus was granted his freedom, possibly by Nero himself, and began studying philosophy under Musonius Rufus in Rome.

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After the death of Nero, Epictetus left Rome and settled in Nicopolis, Greece, where he founded his own philosophical school. He taught philosophy to his students and wrote down his teachings, which were later compiled into a book called “The Enchiridion” or “Handbook.”

Epictetus’ philosophy focused on accepting and living in accordance with the natural order of things, developing self-discipline, and maintaining a rational and virtuous outlook on life. He believed that happiness and peace of mind could be achieved through detachment from external things and a focus on one’s inner state of mind.

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Epictetus’ teachings had a significant influence on later Stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Seneca, and his ideas continue to be studied and discussed today.

Embark on a journey through the profound wisdom of Epictetus, the esteemed Greek philosopher, as we delve into a collection of his inspiring quotes.

Famous Epictetus Quotes

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

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

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

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

4. “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

5. “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”

6. “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”

7. “Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly.”

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

9. “No great thing is created suddenly.”

10. “Books are the training weights of the mind.”

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11. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.”

12. “If you wish to be a writer, write.”

13. “The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.”

14. “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.”

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

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

17. “Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.”

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

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

20. “When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.”

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21. “Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”

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

23. “It is not events that disturb the minds of men, but the view they take of them.”

It is not events that disturb the minds of men, but the view they take of them. - Epictetus

24. “No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage.”

25. “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.”

26. “An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself.”

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

28. “It’s so simple really: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it.”

29. “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.”

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

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

32. “Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcome.”

33. “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.”

34. “Man is not fully free unless he is master of himself.”

35. “Try not to react merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view. Compose yourself.”

36. “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”

37. “Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.”

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

39. “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.”

40. “Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.”

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41. “I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

42. “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.”

43. “To live a life of virtue, match up your thoughts, words, and deeds.”

To live a life of virtue, match up your thoughts, words, and deeds. - Epictetus

44. “God has entrusted me with myself. No man is free who is not master of himself. A man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.”

45. “If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: ‘He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.’”

46. “The best place to get help is from yourself.”

47. “Freedom and happiness are won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”

48. “Learn to distinguish what you can and can’t control. Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires and the things that repel us. They are directly subject to our influence.”

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

50. “Man is troubled not by events, but by the meaning he gives them.”

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51. “It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous – even death is terrible only if we fear it.”

52. “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.”

53. “Only the educated are free.”

54. “In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”

55. “It is not things in themselves which trouble us, but our opinions of things.”

56. “Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them do. Accept events as they actually happen. That way, peace is possible.”

57. “No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.”

58. “Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.”

59. “You have been given your own work to do. Get to it right now, do your best at it, and don’t be concerned with who is watching you. Create your own merit.”

60. “Happiness and personal fulfillment are the natural consequences of doing the right thing.”

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61. “We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character.”

62. “Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater.”

Practice yourself, for heaven’s sake in little things, and then proceed to greater. - Epictetus

63. “The Beginning of Philosophy is a Consciousness of your own Weakness and inability in necessary things.”

64. “Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life.”

65. “The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.”

66. “Desire and happiness cannot live together.”

67. “Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress.”

68. “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.”

69. “What disturbs people’s minds are not events but their judgments on events.”

70. “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.”

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71. “On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.”

72. “What ought one to say then as each hardship comes? I was practicing for this, I was training for this.”

73. “Seek to be the purple thread in the long white gown.”

74. “Never say of anything I have lost it, only say that I have given it back.”

75. “The flourishing life cannot be achieved until we moderate our desires and see how superficial and fleeting they are.”

76. “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.”

77. “No greater 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.”

78. “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.”

79. “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.”

80. “Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance sake, but for the sake of having done right?”

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81. “Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.”

82. “To pay homage to beauty is to admire Nature; to admire Nature is to worship God.”

83. “Give yourself fully to your endeavors. Decide to construct your character through excellent actions and determine to pay the price of a worthy goal. The trials you encounter will introduce you to your strengths.”

84. “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.”

If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please. - Epictetus

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

86. “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.”

87. “What is it to be a philosopher? Is it not to be prepared against events?”

88. “You lose only the things you have.”

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

90. “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?”

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91. “Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.”

92. “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.”

93. “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.”

94. “One that desires to excel should endeavor in those things that are in themselves most excellent.”

95. “You can be invincible, if you enter into no contest in which it is not in your power to conquer.”

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

97. “Renew every day your conversation with God: Do this even in preference to eating. Think more often of God than you breathe.”

98. “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.”

99. “Confident because of our caution.”

100. “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.”

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