Stoicism - What Did Epictetus Teach?

Stoicism was one of the most influential ancient philosophies on the European continent. It was a philosophy that focused on human happiness and values. Epictetus was a teacher of philosophy and founded a school in Rome. He taught his students through lectures and by example in living.

BlogSelf DevelopmentStoicism - What Did Epictetus Teach?

Stoicism was one of the most influential ancient philosophies on the European continent. It was a philosophy that focused on human happiness and values.

Epictetus was a teacher of philosophy and founded a school in Rome. He taught his students through lectures and by example in living.


Epictetus was one of the most important philosophers of ancient times, and his ideas were highly influential on European ethics for over 500 years. Augustine, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz were among the philosophers who were inspired by his work.

As with all moral philosophy, Epictetus's goal was to help people lead good lives. In order to secure a virtuous and eudaimon life, he believed that it was important to understand and practice the principles of Stoic ethics.

The main tenet of Stoic ethics is that all people have a rational mortal self, and that this self must be examined in order to determine whether its actions are morally acceptable. This requires the exercise of a variety of skills, including reflection and the use of impressions.

Unlike many philosophers, Epictetus did not view this skill as something that should be learned on the basis of theoretical knowledge or in a purely intellectual manner. Instead, he advocated long-term training and practice to master the skills of stoic living.

This long-term approach was a significant part of his philosophy, as it allowed him to cultivate the ability to see the world clearly and recognise one's place in it. It also helped him to become calm and controlled, even in the face of adversity.

However, this was not an easy task. In fact, the discipline of Stoic ethics requires a lot of hard work and constant reappraisal of one's behavior.

For example, the Stoics believe that the key to becoming a virtuous person is to learn how to control your emotions no matter what situation you find yourself in. It takes years of training to master this skill, and it is a very useful skill for anyone who wants to be able to live a peaceful, satisfying life.

In order to achieve this, it is essential to have a clear understanding of what we are capable of and why we do things the way we do them. This knowledge is what makes us human and what enables us to act in ways that are both ethical and morally acceptable.


Epictetus is best known for his Stoic philosophy, which he taught in Nicopolis, Greece. He opened his own school in the city and continued to teach until he died in 130 CE. His students included Flavius Arrianus (known as Arrian), who would later compose the Discourses and the Handbook, both of which are still considered to be important sources for understanding the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus.

To live a good life, according to the Stoics, requires a commitment to excellence in one's moral character. The term used to describe this is arete, which means 'excellence' or 'virtue'. The Stoics were also convinced that people can achieve eudaimonia ('happiness' or 'well-being') by following the path of ethical practice, or prohairesis.

It is this commitment to the pursuit of virtuous behavior that makes self-discipline an essential part of a Stoic lifestyle. A Stoic prokopton must learn to discipline his or her thoughts and actions by making a conscious effort to avoid destructive behaviors such as anger, depression, resentment, and slothfulness.

In the words of Epictetus, this is accomplished by being conscious of what is truly good and aware that indifferent things are beyond the power of any individual to change. It is by maintaining this awareness that the prokopton gains the ability to enjoy life's pleasures without suffering unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Another key aspect of a Stoic attitude is being aware that all of life is natural and normal. It is one's own interpretation of circumstances that creates problems.

Therefore, it is essential to remain calm in the face of adversity and to control our emotions no matter what the circumstances may be. These qualities of character are what we call being stoical, and they are the basis of the stoic attitude that Epictetus teaches in his Discourses, which are believed to have been written down by his student Arrian.

Epictetus wrote many books and essays on the subject of stoicism, and his teachings were greatly influential. In fact, it is a widely held belief that his philosophical ideas were the most coherent and practical version of Stoicism. Moreover, many seventeenth-century intellectuals, including Descartes and Pascal, found his philosophy compatible with the Christian teachings of Jesus.


Epictetus was a freedman - not exactly the most likely candidate for the title of 'freedom buff'. But he was certainly a freedmen with a passion for self-improvement and the philosophy of Stoicism is where it all started.

To the ancients, philosophy was all about living well and securing for oneself a long and happy life (or at least a flourishing one) so it's not surprising that this was at the heart of Epictetus' philosophy. He is also known for his enlightening handbook of Stoic wisdom, The Enchiridion which has stood the test of time and still serves as an excellent guide to the fundamentals of self-improvement.

In the book, Epictetus takes the reader on a tour of a variety of concepts and practices that are often regarded as nebulous to the uninitiated. For example, he teaches his students how to meditate and to live by the guiding principles of Stoic thought. He then takes them through a number of meditational exercises that are designed to improve the quality of their lives.

He also tells them to be careful not to overdo it, or they'll become numb to their own pain and the misery of others. He also lays out what he believes are the most effective ways to approach a problem.

The most important thing he tells his students to do is to be honest with themselves about what they know and what they don't. This is a key part of the process and it will serve them well as they begin to build their own lives from scratch.

What is most interesting about the exercise is that it enables them to come up with a new set of guiding principles for their lives. These will help them to achieve their goals - whether it be financial prosperity, love or even freedom.

In a nutshell, Epictetus's most impressive achievement is the way in which he has helped his students hone their self-knowledge and improve their lives. In doing so, he has also made them better citizens of their society.


A Stoic is a wise person who values arete and enjoys a eudaimon life. This means that he or she lives in accordance with the design of nature and is willing to face life’s difficulties without being manipulated by them.

Epictetus taught that the only way to have this type of life was to be self-reliant and not rely on external sources. He encouraged his students to follow a rigorous program of study and practice that would allow them to develop their own unique Stoic outlook on the world and enable them to live a philosophic life.

One of the key components of his philosophy was the capacity for volition, which is the ability to act voluntarily on one’s own free will. He defined this as the capacity for choosing to do what is right or wrong, and to make decisions about what one should or shouldn’t do based on the principles of virtue (prohairesis).

Another important element of his teaching was learning to use impressions correctly. This involves being able to identify positive and negative feelings. This is a skill that he encourages his students to acquire by studying and practicing the Stoic disciplines of prohairesis, following God, and living in accordance with nature.

This is a highly practical approach to ethics that was very popular in the ancient world. It is a philosophy that helps individuals understand how to deal with the problems of everyday life and learn how to be successful in their endeavors.

He wrote a number of books that helped him explain his philosophy. One of the most famous was the Enchiridion, which was translated into Latin in the 15th century and became a popular work. It was a significant influence on the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius, who acknowledged it in his own writings.

Another important point of Epictetus’s teaching is the notion that philosophy was not a scholarly discipline but a way of life. This concept is evident throughout the Enchiridion and is also reflected in his other works, including the Discourses. These were composed by Flavius Arrian, a student of Epictetus who attended his lectures and classes and compiled them into a number of books.


Saturday, February 25, 2023