This is the list of Epictetus quotes used in the text in my blog. Born a slave, he became a great source of inspirations for one of the most well-known and best Roman Emperors. Although he never wrote anything himself, one of his students, Arrian, made sure to take extensive notes. He created the Discourses and the Handbook from wich most of these quotes come. Through these works they continue to inspire and teach us even now, 2000 years later. When reading quotes online, make sure that they are real. There are many false quotes roaming the different platforms. Gregory Sadler started a YouTube series where he looks into them. Check his video on Aristotle here.

We see more quotes by Marcus Aurelius or Seneca pass our screen, but Epictetus deserves more attention. This list hopes to bring his wisdom to the general public, feel free to use it. A link as a reference to this page would be greatly appreciated. These are all taken from The Discourses and the Handbook, the Everyman version. But the references should still work for many others versions. Enjoy the list and I hope you’ll get something out of it.

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is our own action. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever is not our action.” 

Epictetus, The handbook of Epictetus, 1

Post: On What we Control

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is our own action. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever is not our action. The things that are up to us are by nature free, unhindered and unimpeded; but those that are not up to us are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, and not our own.”

Epictetus, The handbook of Epictetus, 1

Post: What is Stoicism

“If you intend to engage in any activity, remind yourself what the nature of the activity is. If you are going to bathe, imagine yourself what happens in baths: the splashing of water, the crowding, the scolding, the stealing. And like that, you will more steadily engage in the activity if you frankly say ‘I want the bathe and want to hold my will in accordance with nature.”

Epictetus, The Handbook of Epictetus, 4

Post: On Dealing with the General Public

“What harm is there while you are kissing your child to say softly, ‘Tomorrow you will die’.”

Epictetus, the Discourses, Book 3, Chapter 24.87

Post: On Dealing With Loss, What is Stoicism

“Enable my mind to adapt itself to whatever comes to pass.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 2, Chapter 2.21

Post: What is Stoicism

“Above all, keep a close watch on this – that you are never so tied to your former acquainances and friends that you are pulled down to their level. If you don’t, you’ll be ruined. You must choose whether to be loved by these friends and remain the same person, or to become a better person at the cost of those friends… if you try to have it both ways you will neither make progress nor keep what you once had.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Chapter 2

Post: Friendship and Growth Through a Stoic Lens

“First say to yourself, what manner of man you want to be; when you have settled this, act upon it in all you do.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 3, Chapter 23.1

Post: How to Know Yourself

“Difficulties are the things that show what men are.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 1, Chapter 24.1

Post: How our Mirror Fails to Reflect

“For it is you who know yourself, and what value you set upon yourself, and at what rate you sell yourself.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 1, Chapter 2.11

Post: How our Mirror Fails to Reflect

“You should drop your desire; do not covey many things, and you will get what you want.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 3, Chapter 9.22

Post: Budgeting like a Stoic: How to save more money

“If it ever happens that you turn to external things in the desire to please some other person, realize that you ahe ruined your scheme of life. Be content, then, with being a philosopher in everything; and if you wish also to be seen as one, show yourself that you are one, and you will be able to achieve it.”

Epictetus, The Handbook, 23

Post; The Collective Existential Crisis

“If you take on a role that is beyond your powers, you not only disgrace yourself in that role, but you neglect the role that you were capable of fulfilling.”

Epictetus, The Handbook, 37

Post: How to Find your Purpose Through Stoicism

“Examine who you are… For you are capable of understanding the divine governance of the universe, and of reasoning on what follows from that.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 2, Chapter 10

Post: How to Find your Purpose Through Stoicism

“When you are about to undertake some action, remind yourself what sort of action it is.”

Epictetus, The Handbook, 4

Post: How to Act Like a Stoic

“Practice, then, from the start to say to every harsh impression, ‘You are an impression, and not at all the thing you appear to be.’ Then examine it and test it by these rules which you have, and firstly, and chielfy, by this: Whether the impression has to do with things which are up to us, or those which are not, and, if it has to do with thing that are not up to us, be ready to reply. ‘It is nothing to me’.”

Epictetus, The Handbook, 1

Post: How to deal with your emotions

“But it is a much finer thing to be happy, to have a peaceful and undisturbed mind, to have what concerns you dependent on nobody but yourself.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 4, Chapter 4.36

Post: How to Be Alone

“In a similar way, you too should remind yourself that what you love is mortal, that what you love is not your own. It is granted to you for the present while, and not irrevocably, nor for ever, but like a fig or a bunch of grapes in the appointed season; and if you long for it in the winter, you are a fool.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 3, Chapter 24.86

Post: How to Love

“In the case of everything that delights the mind, or is useful, or is loved with fond affection, remember to tell yourself what sort of things it is, beginning with the least of things. If you are fond of a jug, say, ‘It is a jug that I am fond of’; then, if it is broken, you will not be disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say to yourself that it is a human being that you are kissing; and then you will not be disturbed if either of them dies.”

Epictetus, The Handbook, 3

Post: How to Love

“What a man sets his heart on, that he naturally loves. Do men set their heart on evils? – By no means. Or on what does not concern them? – No again. It remains for us to conclude, then, that good things alone are what they set their heart on: and if they set their heart on those, they love them too. Whoever, therefore, has knowledge of good things would also know how to love them; and he who cannot distinguish good things from evil, and things that are neither good nor evil from both of these, how could he still have power to love? It follows that the wise man alone has the power to love.”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book 2, Chapter 22.1

Post: How to Love

“For universally (and you should not be deceived on this) every living creature is attached to nothing so strongly as it is to its own interest.” 

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book Two, Chapter 22.12

Post: What is True Friendship

“Eteocles: ‘Where will you stand before the walls?’

Polyneices: ‘For what reason do you ask me?’

Eteocles: ‘I mean to face you and slay you.’

Polyneices: ‘And so is my desire too.’”

Epictetus, The Discourses, Book Two, Chapter 22.12

Post: What is True Friendship

“…you have not been invited to such a person’s banquet, because you have not paid him the price for which a meal is sold. It is sold for praise; it is sold for attention. Make up the price, then, if that is to your advantage. But if you would at the same time not pay the one and yet receive the other, you are greedy and stupid. Have you nothing, then, in place of the meal? Yes, indeed, you have: that of not praising someone you did not want to praise, and of not putting up with the people around his door.” 

Epictetus, The Handbook, 25

Post: What is True Friendship

“Philosophers exhort us not to be contented with mere learning, but to add practice also,  and then training.” 

Epictetus, the Discourses, book two, chapter 9.13

Post: The Stoic Reading List for Beginners

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