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Discourses, Fragments, Handbook

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  31 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 ...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 Platos
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 its 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 ...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
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.
Stoicism Part 3

A Stoics Journey: heroically useful or false and insincere?

Follow us, who are orphaned at birth from our true selves. When winter comes and we prepare for the long migration, we are revealed our true identity and are left behind in the forest with the other sparrows since we would not survive the long journey. But only with the help of our alter-egos: this one on Goodreads, the eccentric owl with his imaginary on-line friends, and the other an Epicurean, Spotify-listening
Katie Tran
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 ...more
Ben Rogers
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read. Highly recommended.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: greece, greek, philosophy

How much longer will you delay before you think yourself worthy of what is best, and transgress in nothing the distinctions that reason imposes? Youve acquired knowledge of the philosophical principles that you ought to accept, and have accepted them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for, that you should delay any effort to reform yourself until he appears? Youre no longer a youth; youre a full-grown man. If youre now negligent and idle, and are constantly making one delay after
Bob Nichols
Epictetus constructs an ideal human and then tells us that reason should mold us to fit that ideal. As to what constitutes the ideal, he advises that we must concern ourselves with only that which is in our power, not what is outside our power to control. This advice is anchored in a view of the cosmos that has a mind of its own. Given this fated universe, our task is to go with the flow, not fight it, and to focus only on what we have control over. Importantly, this means our desires and ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mildly redundant but nonetheless worthwhile. Full of practical and applicable wisdom.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This really is the best modern translation of the works of Epictetus you can find today. It is highly accurate while also being very readable for modern audiences, whether for scholars or non-scholars.
Epictetus is mostly known in and outside of the Stoic community for his Enchiridion, but that is only a summary of his Discourses, of which this book has all 4.
If you are non-religious, he can come off slightly preachy, but his religion is more of a pantheistic type. Yes he mentions Zeus and the
Joshua Bryant
Be prepared to say of everything that is not within your control, "It is nothing to me."

Epictetus thinks like this, with additions I'm bringing in from Cicero. The only thing good is virtue. The only thing bad is vice. In other words, what is of moral relevance is only that which is under your control. You can't control other's opinions or actions or when death will come. In terms of good or bad these are matters of complete indifference. The stoic watches over as what is his, only what is
C.K. Shaw
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Stoics provide a powerful answer to the question of how one should live life. In the Stoic view, living a satisfying life requires the recognition of what lies within the sphere of one's power and what lies without. Epictetus very convincingly argues that the only thing that is entirely within one's power is one's choice. He recommends that we use our power of choice to exercise virtue, which is the only good, and avoid placing any of our concern or happiness in the "indifferents", such as ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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

Need re-reading over time. Currently like:

1. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be
Önder Kurt
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a good guide for those who aspire to learn how to die an honorable and dignified death and how to live a wretched and miserable life elegantly. Too much repetition though. Same principles are put forward over and over again through different metaphors.

Stoicism is vulnerable to be abused by Libertarians who sorely need for their superficial, childish egocentricism. If not properly defeneded, it can be marketed as a new ideology for Capitalistic individualism against collectivitism , a new
Don Putnam
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book! While it can be really dense, it is well worth the read. And if you need some help unpacking what Epictetus said, then I offer you my service. I wrote commentary for each of the four books in Discourses. You can follow this link to get to the commentary:

It's also wise to remember that Marcus Aurelius got a lot of his ideas from Epictetus. Marcus' tutor Rusticus mentored him in the philosophy and even gave him "notes" by Arian who was a
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most clearly written and manual-like of the big three Stoic texts. I found the Discourses hard to read at first, but progressively I came to realise they were covering the same core themes and so found them more easy to digest and enjoyable, as the core ideas began to sink in. The Handbook I found to be a good summary to read after the Discourses.
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Repetitive, just like most stoic works are. But very helpful anyways and most of it is quite easy to understand. Some passages are actually quite funny. The structure is good: First the ideas are repeatedly and thoroughly presented in the Discourses and then the Handbook summarizes them. Can recommend even for people who just start out reading on the topic.
Leonel Câmara
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good translation and edition. Not my favorite stoic but it's very interesting to see how many things in common it has with catholic teachings, probably due to St Paul spending time in Greece. Highly recommend this book.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully clear and readable translation of some of the best advice the ancient world has to offer.
Joe Newell
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most important books I've ever encountered. Life changing.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite, philosophy
After reading the Handbook, all I want to be in life now is a Stoic.
Kevin Smith
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stoicism, favorites
One of my favorite translations; up there with William Abbott Oldfather's. It also includes a helpful footnotes and index. Recommended.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Essential sotic writing, presented in a clear and well organized manner.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een samenvatting voor geïnteresseerden in de stoa van Epictetus.
Laurens Trommel
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Prachtige uitgave, ideaal voor studenten met een samenvatting van de Colleges van ca. 40 pagina's. Voor wie geïnteresseerd is in het Stoïcisme een aanrader, preferabel ten opzichte van De Meditaties van Marcus Aurelius.
Joan Porte
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well I'm not completely happy with the translation this is a very interesting look at an early philosopher. It is amazing how many of his concepts are Buddhist in nature.
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the Enchiridion only. Carter translation freely available at the MIT Classics website:
Michael Baranowski
My favorite Stoic, and in my favorite everyday translation. The Loeb hardback versions look prettier, but they cost more and - even more importantly - there's no Kindle version.
Kathy Lu
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mind Opening, Great Thoughts for Pondering.
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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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“So you wish to conquer in the Olympic Games, my friend? And I, too... But first mark the conditions and the consequences. You will have to put yourself under discipline; to eat by rule, to avoid cakes and sweetmeats; to take exercise at the appointed hour whether you like it or not, in cold and heat; to abstain from cold drinks and wine at your will. Then, in the conflict itself you are likely enough to dislocate your wrist or twist your ankle, to swallow a great deal of dust, to be severely thrashed, and after all of these things, to be defeated.” 40 likes
“What are we to do, then? To make the best of what lies within our power, and deal with everything else as it comes. ‘How does it come, then?’ As God wills.” 9 likes
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