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Epictetus (Greek: Επίκτητος; c.55–c.135) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. 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. So far as is known, Epictetus himself wrote nothing. All that we have of his work was transcribed by his pupil Arrian. The main work is The Discourses, four books of which have been preserved (out of an original eight). Arrian also compiled a popular digest, entitled the Enchiridion, or Handbook. In a preface to the Discourses, addressed to Lucius Gellius, Arrian states that “whatever I heard him say I used to write down, word for word, as best I could, endeavouring to preserve it as a memorial, for my own future use, of his way of thinking and the frankness of his speech”.
"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. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions." Thus begins Arrian's excellent summary of Epictetus's teachings. This book is well read and it is a great starting point for anyone interested in practicing practical philosophy of life.
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