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Discourses, Fragments, Handbook

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  3,743 ratings  ·  219 reviews
'About things that are within our power and those that are not.' Epictetus' Discourses have been the most widely read and influential of all writings of Stoic philosophy, from antiquity onwards. They set out the core ethical principles of Stoicism in a form designed to help people put them into practice and to use them as a basis for leading a good human life. Epictetus wa ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 355 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by Oxford University Press (first published January 1st 1758)
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Roy Lotz
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
But to begin with, keep well away of what is stronger than you. If a pretty girl is set against a young man who is just making a start on philosophy, that is no fair contest.

Epictetus forms one part of the triad of classic stoic authors, along with Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.

Born a slave, sent into exile, never rich nor powerful, he certainly had more need of the stoic philosophy than Aurelius, an emperor, or Seneca, a senator. His course of life was closer to that of Socrates. Like Plato’s
Read The Enchiridion. Breezy Stoic tonics for daily living. Surprisingly Buddhistic. Star rating refers to that section only.
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave Marcus Aurelius' Mediations a five star rating only because the writing was more clear. However Aurelius was inspired by Epictetus and that is why I chose to read this book. I really enjoyed the read. It had a very powerful effect on the way I viewed life. If you are seeking to change your perspective or you're looking to grow,, 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. ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These times in which we now live demand normal daily functioning, combined with active resistance to viciously regressive political forces, in a chaotic atmosphere of propaganda and violence. For some this state of being is nothing new, but for white left-wingers in the UK and US, I suspect it’s largely novel and shocking. Personally, I find the current state of things (which I dread to think of as a new normal) horrifying and depressing, as I discussed in this review. Amongst other coping mecha ...more
Ryan Boissonneault
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If I had to recommend one of the classic Stoic authors to someone new to the subject, it would be Epictetus. Many contemporary works on Stoicism are largely restatements of what Epictetus said with greater force and clarity thousands of years ago. Marcus Aurelius himself was greatly influenced by Epictetus, as confirmed in the Meditations.

This edition includes the Discourses (the four books that survived of the original eight), some fragments, and the Handbook. These were all written by Epictet
Ektoras (Ross)
Me: Epictetus, why is life so difficult? Why can’t I get what I want? Why are people so immature? Why can I never seem to be satisfied?

Epictetus: Because you are a damned fool! *smacks you over the head with his cane.* Seek virtue within not in external things! There will you find peace!
Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After finishing Aristotle, I decided to delve into Hellenistic philosophy. During the second and first centuries B.C. Greek philosophy was divided into three main currents: (1) the Sceptics (Plato's Academy turned doubtful about the possibility of any knowledge); (2) Epicureanism (who preached atharaxia - the quieting of the mind through cultivating (in a reasonable fashion) indulging in bodily pleasures); and (3) the Stoics (who preached apathia - the quieting of the mind through become indiffe ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Epictetus's stoicism in a nutshell-list:

1) You are in control of/responsible for your judgement, impulse, desire, aversion and mental faculties. The virtuous person knows they have power over these things and can practice discernment in how they perceive and take on the world through their own filtered mind.

2) You are not in control of your body, material possessions, your reputation, status, death—all of which he calls "externals". When you try to control the incontrollable, you will only face
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
for years i've searched for ways to trick myself into cleaning my house. reading the great stoic philosophers is the only thing i've found that works ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stoicism, roman
A difficult but powerful perspective to be found here; what this book seems to promise is
the secret to invincibility. But it's not what most people at first thought would expect or even for that matter want. Out the window go the traditional definitions of evil. Suffering is thought very little of here; it's not even given a consolation in any sort of afterlife. There is an overwhelming faith here in the abilities of the mind not to eliminate but to stand above and resist to the waves of misery
Jim Coughenour
May 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Humbly, I can’t review a 2,000-year-old book of the great philosophers as if it’s just an ordinary read. I’ve learned a lot and Remembered how good it feels to read simple yet complicated truths again.
Along with Marcus Aurelius, this book is another step in my journey through the wonderful world of the stoic philosophy.

the book is translated superbly and way more accessible than I’d ever imagined.

Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic of Stoic philosophy. A self-help book before there were self-help books. Some great stuff, although it's a bit repetitive, which will be largely due to its origins in lecture notes by a devoted pupil. ...more
As mentioned in other reviews, Epicetus completes the Stoic troika with Seneca and Marcus Aurelious. If he is the third of the three you read, as is the case for me, the message is not new but just presented in a different style / presentation.

As with most Stoic literature I've read, it's approachable, somewhat practical, and heavily emphasizes on freedom. I don't know if this is related to slavery existing (in Epictetus' case, he was a freed slave), the rise of Society, increasing bureaucracy,
Farhan Khalid
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the three pillars of stoic writing

Epictetus was a freed slave

Aurelius was one of the most powerful men of his time and Seneca was one of the wealthiest of his. Epictetus was at the other end of the spectrum

Arrian recorded and published Epictetus’ informal lectures and conversations on ethics, in eight books, of which four books and some fragments survive. These are the Discourses; Arrian also wrote a summary of main themes, the Manual

When we are frustrated, angry or unhappy, never hold an
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am going to mix in some other anecdotes as I write this review...Epictetus was a slave who gained his freedom in Rome after Nero was assassinated , he opened a School of Philosophy in Nicopolos Greece.
His Discourses are long winded, repetitious, but full of practical metaphors.
He was serious minded but gregarious and funny
His Teaching is pithy and Practical---"Now a Carpenter does not come to you and say, I have come to philosophize on carpentry, he hands you a contract and builds a House-so d
Michael Broch
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“For every challenge, remember the resources you have within you to cope with it… faced by pain, you will discover the power of endurance. If you are insulted, you will discover patience. In time, you will grow to be confident that there is not a single impression that you will not have the moral means to tolerate.”

“Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.”
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being fairly new to greek philosophy, stoicism in particular, I do believe that my ability to judge this based on its implications has to be kept in mind.

However, I am certain to have understood the underlying axioms by which the stoics function and that is due to the well preserved translation. This edition features so called 'fragments' of Epictetus' teachings as well as the Enchiridion, which is, quite literally, the manual of stoicism.
Those added parts allow for a continuation of the teachi
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is my work, and I accomplish it, and I will never abandon my post for as long as it is granted to me to remain in it; and I invite all of you to join me . . . (1.16.21)

And then people say, ‘Nobody’s any the better for attending a philosopher’s school.’ Well, who goes to the school, I ask you, with the intention of attaining a cure? Who goes there to submit his judgements to purification; who goes there to become fully aware of what he stands in need of? Why are you surprised, then, if yo
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost 2,000 years on and Epictetus could still teach modern man a thing or two about the art of living.
Asaad Mahmood
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Stoic Philosophy
Definitely a good read. Further helping me understand the Stoic stance a bit more. One thing that I fail to come to terms with is the concept of gratefulness (that we normally advocate), with Stoic philosophy. The book for those unfamiliar advocates a distance from external things. External things are neither to be seen as good or bad and one should be indifferent to them. Principles of good and bad should only be applied to things you can control - that being your will or your mind.

Thus, if one
Connor Whittle
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This being the first time I've read an entire book dedicated to the teachings of a single philosopher makes me unqualified, and therefore incapable of assessing and coming to a fair conjecture of the teachings.

That's why my review will focus on the writing and more importantly, my ease of understanding.

Looking at it, and considering that's it's an ancient brand of an already dense subject (Philosophy) I think people would probably be put off by it's apparent complexity--but to be honest, as a
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. My long term, low level fear of death has considerably abated.

Epictetus was a slave who, when freed, started his own Stoic philosophy school in second century Nicopolis (ancient Greece I think). This book, his sayings and lectures recorded by one of his students Arrian is a magnificent testament to the wisdom of the Ancients.

Sometimes in the middle ages, repurposed for bracing tutelage of Christian monks - all they did was revise this pagan philosophers language - 'Zeus' or
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think the "Handbook" section should have been presented first and before the Discourses and Fragments. In this edition, "Handbook" is presented last. "Handbook" introduces Epictetus' idea of "sphere of choice" and what is inside and outside of our "sphere of choice." The idea that we should only focus our efforts on what is inside our sphere of choice and that we ought to train ourselves to be indifferent to what is outside our sphere of choice is repeated throughout the Discourses and Fragmen ...more
Neeraj Shukla
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughts on life and philosophy behind things.

A good read. Might take a long time to digest the wisdom contained in this book.

In fact the prime teaching of the book is that, it is not good to be knowledgeable about things in life, but to develop a consistent ability to practice whatever you believe is to be right. The book dwells on developing character and virtues.

Persist and resist- Persist on the path that you decide is the right one for you and resist any temptations that you may encounter i
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favorites
A prominent figure among the Stoic school of thought, Epictetus deals with several subjects such as the correct use of impressions, desire and aversion, the importance of logic in governing one's own life, and many others. The most important one among all is making "the best use of what's in our power" , while remaining completely indifferent to things beyond our control.

A very enlightening read. Recommended to everyone.
Christian Solorzano
Discourses and Selected Writings is a wonderful manual on how to live a life of virtue and stoicism. Considering that Epictetus lived almost two thousand years ago—much of what he says still stands true. It's truly a blessing to be able to read his work. I recommend this book to anybody that is interested in living a good life that is in alignment with nature. ...more
Henry Manampiring
Without a doubt, 5 stars.

The more complete treatise on Stoicism, this record of Epictetus writings is absolute joy and inspiration. Once you read it, you wouldn't believe it was written 2000 years ago, because it is still so relevant with today's situation.

Most recommended for anyone interested in Stoicism.
Zachary Rudolph
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I must die. But must I die bawling? I must be put in chains – but moaning and groaning too? ... 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.”
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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

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