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The Works of Epictetus Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, the Enchiridion and Fragments
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The Works of Epictetus Consisting of His Discourses, in Four Books, the Enchiridion and Fragments

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  2,470 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Elizabeth Carter's version of Epictetus has outlived every English prose translation of its day, and has admirably held its ground with readers. While Marcus Aurelius has had a series of English versions, the complete works of Epictetus have had but this one, reproduced in four different editions. Even of the "Enchiridion," or Manual, of which there have been at least five ...more
434 pages
Published 1865 (first published 108)
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Steve Sckenda
Jun 07, 2014 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Stoic Wisdom
At times in my life I have felt overmatched by events, and I have needed inner resources of strength and courage that I did not believe I possessed. Roman history and philosophy were reservoirs of inspiration, out of which I found a measure of daily bravery for the challenge.

Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius are my favorite Romans, and this is the first review of a three-part series of reviews of the stoic philosophers. When it comes to philosophy, I prefer mine in the form of practical wi
...more
Steve
Epictetus (c. 60 - c. 125 CE), whose name literally meant "bought", was a Greek born in what is now western Turkey and became, we know not how, a slave in Rome. His last master, himself a freedman, allowed him to attend the lectures of the Roman Stoic philosopher C. Musonius Rufus and eventually freed him. Epictetus taught philosophy in Rome until Emperor Domitian banned all philosophers from the city. He moved to Nicopolis in Epirus and started a school of his own, where he remained until his d ...more
Bruce
In this rereading of Epictetus’ Discourses, I wanted to concentrate on two things in particular: first, whether his belief in God or the gods (and Epictetus is by far the most overtly religious and theistic of the Greco-Roman moralists) is strictly necessary to his philosophy; and, second, how closely Epictetus’ stoicism approaches the non-theistic position of philosophical Buddhism.

Epictetus regularly uses Socrates as his example of what all men should be. And one finds the admonition that rea
...more
Tony
THE MORAL DISCOURSES. (?). Epictetus. ****.
This was the translation by Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, and also included The Enchiridion and various Fragments, as published by Everyman’s Library in 1910 and later reprinted in 1913. This translation was the benchmark for this work for the longest time. Since then there have been many more accessible translations using contemporary language. Aside from that, I have to start off by telling you that this is a browsing book. Each discourse stands on its own,
...more
Mike W
Stoicism offers a guide to happiness and serenity in life, and Epictetus was, perhaps, the greatest Stoic philosopher. First and foremost, Epictetus was a deeply religious man. He was convinced that God created the world according to Reason, and that human beings, in so far as we have the gift of rational thought, can attain happiness by living according to our own nature--which meant for Epictetus according to reason.

But what does it mean to live "according to nature" or reason? For Epictetus,
...more
Jim
I just read Epictetus with a small group and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. In my totally dilettantish opinion, after only 1 reading – I found the Discourses rambling and repetitive, and Epictetus too much of a scold – but with interruptions of actual genius. On the other hand, the short Enchiridion (or "handbook") at the end is a gem of bitter wisdom. Epictetus's stoicism is a philosophy for the desperate moments of life, but in such moments it holds up pretty well. (Cf. "Courage Under Fi ...more
Marc-André
J'ai recommandé chaudement la lecture d'Épictète à mon entourage après en avoir moi-même consulté les discours. Quoi que le principe en soit au mieux difficilement applicable, il est très simple, en apparence du moins, et sa pratique ne peut qu'être bénéfique. Ce principe, sous-jacent à tous les discours, c'est : cultives seulement ce qui dépend de toi. Ces choses qui peuvent être dites dépendre purement de nous, en tant que nous sommes des Hommes, sont bien peu nombreuse pour Épictète, et risqu ...more
Delnavaa
I gave Marcus Aurelius Mediations a five star rating only because the writing was clearer. However Aurelius was inspired by Epictetus and that is why I chose to read this book. I really enjoyed it, it is very powerful and it really helped shape my thinking and outlook on life. If you are seeking to change your viewpoint in life, this is a good starting book for you. I most enjoyed discussions on family, friendship, and integrity. I also enjoyed the enchiridion at the very end.
jon
I find it near to impossible to rate a work of antiquity as I might try to rank a contemporary work. How does one choose subtraction over addition in ranking an artifact of historical interest? The Discourses of Epictetus possess such a special status and have greater merit at the start than contemporary works. By various measures, I commend the Discourses. One measure, mentioned above, is the historical measure. Reading the Discourses is time travel. How rare and privileged is it to see the wor ...more
Phil
Stoicism is based on one big assumption and 2 decisions based on this assumption.

The assumption: There are things outside your control and things within your control.
Decision #1: I accept that which is outside my control and refuse to let it bother me.
Decision #2: I will perfect what is in my control.

I wish I had read this in college, because it provides a workable system to attaining something closer to inner peace in a wide variety of situations. I don't control my law school acceptance, but I
...more
Jake
This was the last book I read before going to Basic last year, and I really think it contributed a lot to how much I learned about myself during my training stint.

Also, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_St... Admiral James Stockdale[/url] credited this work with helping him through seven and a half years of torture by the Viet Cong. I think that alone says more than I would be able to.

I guess Epictetus' main thesis is simply this (and the course of the book is spent fleshing this out): th
...more
Federico Trejos
Epictetus is a genius of the ancients, a man whose moral and ethical thought and pathos have the golden mean in mind. The whole idea and notion of balance, ressponsability, dutifulness, and a sense of following, liberally determined, the values one believes at any cost. The stoics were definitely the first existentialists, along with the Bible (for me a great existentialist text) with some elements of severity, extreme measures, principle, radicalism of the cynics, without the irreverence, more ...more
Eric Eisberg
Epictetus is one of the great spiritual minds of human history. His ideas are very similar to Buddhist ones, promoting a doctrine of nonattachment, acting morally and living simply. He differs in a few key ways, however. Like all Stoics, he imagines that death is the end of our consciousness in a very permanent way. He also stresses that our actions, if anything, are the only things in our power and that we should simply accept changes of fortune by learning not to desire anything but our own vi ...more
Mario
"...the comparison of earthly life to a ship which has, during the course of its voyage, temporarily anchored at an island and allowed its passengers to disembark; passengers who linger too long on the island risk being left behind when the ship sets sail again. The implicit warning... is that we must not become attached to material things because they will invariably be taken away from us when the ship relaunches."

Epictetus tries to detail the psychological preparations necessary for becoming t
...more
Olivier Goetgeluck
"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."

"The chief thing to remember is that the door is open. Don't be a greater coward than children, who are ready to announce, 'I won't play any more.' Say, 'I won't play any more,' when you grow weary of the game, and be done with it. But if you stay, don't carp."

"When happiness is come by fairly, others are happy for us too."

"The
...more
Du Nguyen
The Discourses are a series of 5 books of which only 4 exists today by a student of Epictetus who has written down the teachings and philosophy of Epictetus.
Epictetus are one of the most prominent philosophers of stoicism and was born a slave. While being a slave he was permitted to attend lectures which led him to become a stoic. When he was freed he went to Greece and opened a philosophy school.

The Discourses and fragments are incredibly powerful resources to use in your own life. While it is
...more
Billie Pritchett
Epictetus's Moral Discourses lays out the basic tenets of Stoicism in a quasi-conversational, quasi-lecture style, and The Enchiridion is an abbreviated version of the Moral Discourses, and quite a bit more fun and easier to read. The basic idea of Stoicism is that most of human suffering comes from a simple confusion: Too often we think we're disturbed, bothered, or swayed by things, people, or events, but ultimately what disturbs, bothers, or sways is the principles or ideas we have about thes ...more
Patrick Michael
"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."

"First say to yourself what you would be;
And then do what you have to do."

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them."
Stacey
I love this man's philosophy. Down-to-earth and true to this day, despite the fact that he wrote his observations before the first century.
David
These discourses are something everyone should read to see where we came from.
John
My first and best introduction to Stoic philosophy.
Bill Pfister
This one I go back to every few years...
Karlton Douglas
This Robin Hard translation of Epictetus's Discourses is one of my favorites. I nearly wore out this paperback version (Everyman Pub. get this into a Kindle book please!), finding it a clear and concise version of Arrian's words of Epictetus. The Discourses give us a common sense and practical approach to the ethics of Stoic philosophy. When you understand the difference between what you can and cannot control, you have located your place in the universe and can choose your actions and attitude ...more
James
Wisdom persists. Some sections felt painfully outdated (aided in that endeavour by Oldfather's somewhat anachronistic translation), but perhaps only noticeably so for the fact that much of Epictetus’ Stoic philosophy translates so well in a modern context. Undeniably repetitive; however, I think that was rather the point. I find the relationship between Stoic thought (which itself persisted in popularity through much of the heyday of Rome and throughout its decline) and contemporary cognitive be ...more
James
Wisdom persists. Some sections felt painfully outdated (aided in that endeavour by Oldfather's somewhat anachronistic translation), but perhaps only noticeably so for the fact that much of Epictetus’ Stoic philosophy translates so well in a modern context. Undeniably repetitive; however, I think that was rather the point. I find the relationship between Stoic thought (which itself persisted in popularity through much of the heyday of Rome and throughout its decline) and contemporary cognitive be ...more
Diocletian
Comparing ancient and modern philosophy is always an interesting thing to do. Ancient philosophy seems to have been much more practical and applied; something that everyone could take part in, instead of being relegated to experts in the field. It was not there to argue about everything in existence (well, except for the Skeptics) but was instead meant to teach you how to live your life to the fullest. In ancient philosophy, a lot was taken for granted that would never be done so today; such as ...more
Brian
The main point of the Discourses can be summed up in a couple sentences: If it is under your control, change it. If it's not under your control, don't worry about it.

There's more--a lot more--of course, but nearly everything comes back to that. Epictetus keeps referring to the Reason, which is the essential central aspect of humanity, the one thing that makes you you. Therefore, that is what is under an individual's control and what they should work on, and everything else should be endured. De
...more
Libyrinths
When I read Descartes' Discourse on Method, the translator said that he was influenced by the Stoics, citing both Epictetus and Seneca in endnotes. If you'd asked me what a Stoic was before reading this, I probably would have said, "stiff upper lip", or something of the sort, but that comes from our modern usage of the term, Stoic.

I think I got a good feeling for Stoicism from this book, which is what I wanted, not to become an expert. I liked Dobbin's translation and notes, which made it very
...more
Matt
Epictetus was willing to endure all circumstances that fell upon him because of his core belief that the world existed for a religious purpose. Whatever was to come was meant to come. Despite my inability to relate to his fundamental motivation for stoicism, his virtue still seeps through the text and it is hard not to admire the man. Today, our discussions on virtue seem to drift to one extreme or the other. Either tolerance for all things that do not cause harm to others or righteous living as ...more
Matt
A follower of Zeno and Chrysippus (as evidence by the numerous references), Epictetus expounds the lessons of Stoicism. On a superficial level, it’s kind of like Western Buddhism. Detachment from worldly desire being a core concept in both. Whereas Buddhism seeks to train the mind in the ways of sila (ethical behavior) to cut the chain of endless rebirth, Epictetus teaches how virtue helps you pass through the purpose of this existence.
Men act like a traveller on the way to his own country who
...more
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  • The Enneads
  • On Duties (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • Ptolemy's Almagest
  • Fragments
  • Sextus Empiricus: Outlines of Scepticism
  • Letters from a Stoic
  • Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life
  • The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura
  • The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
  • The Essential Epicurus (Great Books in Philosophy)
  • Early Greek Philosophy
  • Protagoras
  • Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World
  • The New Organon
  • De Anima (On the Soul)
  • Virgil: Eclogues. Georgics. Aeneid: Books 1-6 (Loeb Classical Library)
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Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was probably born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until his exile to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece, where he lived most of his life and died. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses. Philosophy, he taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. ...more
More about Epictetus...
The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness The Golden Sayings of Epictetus Enchiridion and Selections from the Discourses The Handbook The Essential Writings

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“Τίς εἶναι θέλεις, σαυτῷ πρῶτον εἰπέ: εἶθ' οὕτως ποίει ἃ ποιεῖς. (First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.)” 164 likes
“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.” 33 likes
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