Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Manual: A Philosopher's Guide to Life

Rate this book
Life's Missing Instruction Manual 

Epictetus (c. 50-135 CE) was brought as a slave to Rome, where he became a great teacher, deeply influencing the future emperor Marcus Aurelius among many others. His philosophy, Stoicism, was practical, not theoretical--aimed at relieving human suffering here and now.

And Epictetus knew suffering. Besides being a former slave, he was lame in one leg and walked with a crutch. After a decade of teaching in Rome, he was banished by Emperor Domitian; undaunted, he established a school in Greece.  

The Manual is a collection of Epictetus' essential teachings and pithy sayings, compiled by his closet student. It is the most accessible and actionable guide to Stoic philosophy, as relevant today as it was in the Roman Empire.

This new edition is rendered in contemporary English, with a foreword, by Sam Torode. A companion volume,  The Meditations: An Emperor's Guide to Mastery by Marcus Aurelius, is also available from Ancient Renewal. 

The Kindle e-book is FREE when you buy the paperback. 

66 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 23, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author


332 books1,655 followers
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. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty of care to all fellow humans. The person who followed these precepts would achieve happiness.

Other language versions:

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,487 (57%)
4 stars
723 (27%)
3 stars
313 (12%)
2 stars
55 (2%)
1 star
13 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 175 reviews
Profile Image for Cheryl.
74 reviews95 followers
June 6, 2020
Do not say of anything "I have lost it," but rather, "I have given it back."

Has your wife died? You have given her back.
Has your child died? You have given him back.
Have you lost your home? You have given it back,

"But, you may retort, "a bad person took it." It is not your concern by what means something returns to the Source from which it came.

For as long as the Source entrusts something to your hands, treat it as something borrowed, like a traveler at an inn.

If you make peace with all things that are beyond your power, refusing to fight them, you will be invincible. If you desire the virtues within your power, there is no reason for envy or aping others. Instead of wishing to be a general, a congressman, or a celebrity, desire to be free. And the way to be free is to let go of anything that is not within your control.
2 reviews1 follower
December 26, 2017
A Wonderful Translation

I'm a sucker for plainly written translations, and this exceeds expectations. As for the content, while you probably won't agree with every maxim (I didn't), there's no question you'll find several passages that will push you toward meaningful change in your life.
Profile Image for Maya .
110 reviews18 followers
January 6, 2020
Lead me, Fate, wherever you will
and I will cheerfully follow.
For, even if I kick and wail,
all the same, I must follow.

_ Cleanthes
Profile Image for Anamika Gioia.
3 reviews7 followers
April 6, 2018
A simple, quick and easy to read translation of The Manual by Epictetus. This book is full of philosophical principals that I would like to live my life by. I have highlights on almost every page of this book!
Profile Image for C. L. Kay.
2 reviews
April 7, 2018
Very quick and easy to read--nuggets of wisdom.

I finished the text in under 30 minutes but each but if wisdom requires deep contemplation and inner work. An interesting ancient perspective that still holds weight.
Profile Image for Nebojsa Radovic.
23 reviews3 followers
January 30, 2022
I wish I read this book when I was 25. A quick read on stocism and its principles that are so close to my personal principles and values. Some things are a bit vague and too abstract but still it’s a great read for young folks who judge themselves too often.

Profile Image for Alexandru.
40 reviews13 followers
January 6, 2019
Now, this was a short book, I finished it in 30 minutes! The book cover is misleading: it's not a compilation of passages of Epictetus, it's a rewriting of his ideas entirely in Sam Torode's words, based on his reading and understanding of Epictetus.
The content is concise, clear and straightforward on how to act and think like a stoic philosopher. I rate it 4/5 because some ideas are repeated and because throughout the book, you do not get to grasp the context and the 'why' underlying the ideas.
Profile Image for Kevin.
252 reviews
January 1, 2019
There are a whole bunch of short translations of the Enchiridion, and this is one of them. I can't really recommend one over the others, so I'd say get a bunch of them and read 'em all (they're cheap).

In terms of value/word, this is about as good as it gets. So I'll give it five stars and move on.
Profile Image for Philipp.
610 reviews179 followers
November 21, 2018
A quick read, a reader's digest of Epictetus writings, the 'main points' taken out and put into very short chapters you can print in a calendar. If you're after the life advice portion, and only that - no historical context etc. - of stoic thought this is a good start.

What of things, objects, and beings that delight your mind, are of good practical use, or which you dearly love? Remind yourself of their true nature, beginning with the smallest trifle and working upward.
If you have a favorite cup, remember that it is only a cup that you prefer—if it is broken, you can bear it.
When you embrace your wife or child, remember that they are mortal beings. By accepting their nature rather than denying it, if either should die you will find the strength to bear it.

(that's an entire chapter right there, and one of the longer ones!)
Profile Image for Brian.
34 reviews5 followers
December 20, 2020
Three Sentence Summary
1. Only your thoughts and actions are within your power.
2. Do not be disturbed by things that are not within your power.
3. An event becomes how you interpret it, not what it actually is.
Profile Image for Terese.
760 reviews23 followers
July 3, 2020
”You are the curator of your own fortunes and misfortunes”

”Of things some are in our power, and others are not. In our powers are opinion, movement toward a thing, desire, aversion (turning from a thing); and in a word, whatever are our own acts: not in our power are the body, property, reputation, offices (magisterial power), and in a word, whatever are not our own acts”

If you like or are familiar with Stoicism, none of what is in here will come as a surprise to you, but will more likely make you nod in agreement and make you reflect over your own character and life. If you’re not familiar, some parts may seem a bit cold and detached, but most of it will probably make sense, even if it seems hard or impossible in practice.
If you like vibrations, LOA, and manifestation you will also find a lot to approve of in here. Especially in the fragments, which not all are by Epictetus.

”Choose the best life, for custom (habit) will make it pleasant”

It is a great read either way, I would recommend it to anyone. It is short and invites you to think about your reactions and being in the world.

One of my favorite fragments happens to also remind me of one of my favorite lines from st. Paul.

Fragment: ”Fortify yourself with contentment, for this is an impregnable fortress”

Phillipians 4:11 ”For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (KJV)

But there is so much to love about this book, Epictetus, and Stoicism in general, if it is to your mental bent.

”For another will not damage you, unless you choose: But you will be damaged then when you shall think that you are damaged”

”And let silence be the general rule, or let only what is necessary be said, and in few words”

With that said. Read it.
121 reviews19 followers
August 1, 2021
At first I was drained from listening to Epictetus drone on and on; Like Admiral Stockdale I too thought: "Here I am a fighter pilot and martini drinker, and all I hear is this ancient rag droning on and on about not worrying about things outside the control of the will ; charitably put I thought him to be irrelevant". It would have been a mistake to stop there; like Epictetus he wants you to stop and wait to evaluate your impressions. My delayed impression is that Epictetus is an Incredible Teacher.
Like the beloved wounded Teacher Kheiron he has the heart of a Healer. Kheiron too was a Great Teacher part Human and part Horse. Like Kheiron Epictetus wants his students to "Adorn Themselves with Freedom, Dignity, and Self-Respect.
"Does a Horse have the beauty of a dog ? "You are a part of the intricate part of the greater whole of humanity, so act well the given part " "But such and such wants me to do this or that; Were you born to listen to the dictates of the mob, or to follow divine reason ? "
"Adorn Yourself with Dignity, Magnanimity, and self-respect "
Stoicism seems like an Individual Philosophy, but the real effect is to ennoble Greatness of Soul and Goodwill among men and women
Profile Image for Anonymous Hindu.
36 reviews16 followers
January 16, 2021
A most excellent book dealing with various situations in life and how to deal with them, the right attitude, reason, philosophy as a way of life, etc. A very short book worth a quick read, taking half an hour to an hour to read.
Profile Image for Tom Walsh.
557 reviews8 followers
June 29, 2021
Good Handbook for Daily Reference.

It’s up to you. Basic Life Lessons fo anyone wanting to learn not to complain about the hand you’re dealt but rather to learn to play the hand you’re dealt wisely and live your Life! Quit your bitchin’
Profile Image for Steve Fenton.
Author 15 books20 followers
July 19, 2021
This was the second reading. For me, this is an essential prompt to steer my thoughts in the right direction. So, I expect to re-read whenever my actions indicate the mind has strayed from the path.
Profile Image for Asra.
5 reviews1 follower
September 12, 2020
Stoicism and Buddhism, in terms of practical philosophy, are basically two sides of the same coin. The former is the intellectual/mental path, and the latter is the meditative path. Truly both are the only acceptable forms of 'self-help.' This book and the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius emphasize the invincibility of the rational soul and the necessity of anchoring oneself in its stable ground to withstand the storms of life. It is not a very popular prescription but very purposeful. True freedom and lasting peace are the fruits of inner work and not the harvest of superior life circumstances. As Marcus Aurelius instructs, nurture the spark of divinity within and commit yourself to the projects of your higher nature during your time in the world. Well, I guess we can try.
815 reviews88 followers
November 9, 2018
I finally understand the guy who calls everyone normies

Honestly it wasn't bad although there was actually a lot I did not agree with. This took me a while to read despite being short. It was a bit judgy.
Profile Image for Ann.
147 reviews7 followers
March 8, 2020
Agreed with some parts, disagreed with others. Not everything is fully applicable to modern-day life or should be taken literally. Regardless, it's a quick read and has several helpful nuggets of advice, especially for anyone who spends too much time/energy worrying about what others think.
Profile Image for Miha Rekar.
115 reviews14 followers
January 15, 2020
60 pages of distilled philosophy. You can read it in 30 mins. And then read it again. And again. 1900 years old knowledge but repacked in modern English. Can not recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Sheila Jungco.
159 reviews44 followers
May 11, 2021
I can read this everyday. I'm thinking of getting an audible for this. It's a good book to listen while I commute to work or after work. Or washing my dishes or doing the laundry.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
73 reviews11 followers
December 30, 2019
I read this because DHH recommends this book in the twitter.
Its main concept repeats what I have learned from a mentor and friend: “When anyone provokes you, remember that it is actually your own opinion provoking you. It is not the person who insults or attacks you who torments your mind, but the view you take of these things.” “This is only my interpretation, not reality itself.”
September 21, 2021
Jo, tak dobré, jak jsem čekala, jen chci rozhodně vyzkoušet i nějaký tradičnější překlad. Škoda, že jsem nenašla žádnou modernější verzi v češtině.
Plus samozřejmě potřebuji papírovou verzi...
Profile Image for Nick.
207 reviews4 followers
December 28, 2019
We no less struggle to avoid distress and lead the good life today than we did in Ancient Greece—Epictetus’ practical advice is as relevant as ever. Torode’s clear, straightforward interpretation of Higginson’s turn of the century translation brings fresh air to Stoic philosophy’s core principles.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 175 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.