Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Golden Sayings of Epictetus

Epictetus (AD 55–AD 135) 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. (Excerpt from
The Golden Sayings of Epictetus” was published by Harvard Classics. New York. P.F. Colliera & Son Co. 1909-1914. And New York., 2001
You can also find it on line at
Here, one of his sayings:

If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with
this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from
God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full
surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself.
Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be
intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the
son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in
our birth these two things are commingled--the body which we
share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share
with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the
dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then
every one must deal with each thing according to the view which
he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for
fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the
things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of
themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?--A
wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine.
Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry
flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?

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